Yesterday morning, we shared the sudden passing of beluga whale Qila. The health and safety of animals at Vancouver Aquarium are our top priorities and we are investigating all possible explanations as to why she passed so suddenly. Our head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena participated in Qila’s necropsy yesterday. Unfortunately, it did not result in any clear outcome as to why she passed.

Most concerning to us at this point is the current health of Qila’s mother, Aurora, who is displaying symptoms similar to Qila before she passed yesterday morning. We have been conducting a deep exploration into all possible medical explanations, with help from veterinarians, pathologists, technicians and marine biologists across North America, but have not yet received the results from important tests that may help.

Under the leadership of Dr. Haulena, the marine mammal care team has been caring for Aurora around-the-clock. She is currently in a hospital-like environment in our medical pool where she is familiar and comfortable.

We continue to work with experts from around the world, and are flying in an additional veterinarian from SeaWorld’s veterinary team for additional assistance, to ensure we have as many professionals on the ground as possible to explore every option so that no stone is left unturned.

In our 60 years of conserving aquatic life more than 40 million people have engaged with these majestic animals including Aurora and Qila. It’s these direct engagements that have helped us fall in love with marine mammals and connect people to our oceans and the animals that depend on them.

We’re sharing these developments with you as we’ve had just as many questions among our team as some of you have had regarding Qila’s sudden passing. Our team is entirely focused on Aurora’s care and we would like to thank everyone for your warm thoughts and supportive messages. We feel it is important to share these updates and will continue to do so as we learn more.





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15 Responses

  1. Jacqueline (mom) and Sydney (7th grader; 12 years old)

    I am very sorry to hear that Quila. I hope that the marine biologist doctors, find the cure of what caused Quila to die so suddenly and why Aurora is also suffering from the symptoms. I never had a chance to meet Quila and I have never met her mother, but I hope I will be able to meet Aurora, and she is very healthy and happy. I have learned that some whale species mourn over a dead calf, so Aurora may be mourning over Quila, her calf. Good luck, on finding the cure and thank you for helping save my favorite animal, the beluga whale. I hope that I can help beluga whales as well as all of the marine biologist doctors do at Vancouver Aquarium and all over the world. I also want to be a marine biologist, so this has motivated me to be the best marine biologist I can, when I grow up.

    • Vancouver Aquarium

      Thank you for the lovely message and positive thoughts. We’re thrilled to hear the great work our marine mammal and vet teams do at the Aquarium has motivated you to follow your dreams – wishing you the best of luck.

  2. Karla

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of such beautiful whale. My kids and I had the privilege to witness all of them the two babies belugas and Quila nursing hers and Aurora such a beautiful site.
    Thank you so much for all your work and effort in promoting love for our aquatic
    mammals which our children would not get to know otherwise.
    Thank you

    • Vancouver Aquarium

      We’re happy you got to experience such a beautiful moment between Qila and Aurora. We greatly appreciate the support for our conservation and education efforts.

  3. Ariel

    I have been so privileged to live in the lower mainland and visit the Aquarium since I was a child. It has been amazing to see, first the Orcas, then the belugas; I have been so proud of Qila, Aurora, and the world-class care and attention they receive. We have the best Aquarium in the world. All the best wishes to Aurora and the team as they figure out what is wrong with her.

  4. Molly Koshelanyk

    So sad and sorry at the passing of Quila the Beluga Whale.She was such a joy to the Aquarium along with her mother Aurora.Sending prayers and best wishes that Aurora will some how make a recovery . I know the Aquarium is dedicated to the Beluga’s and their hard work and dedication around the clock care for them is a tough job. Quila will sadly be miss and prayers for Aurora to hopefully get well soon and a big warm hearted thank you to all the staff at the Aquarium who work so hard to care for these beautiful l animals.God Bless. <3

  5. Amie padilla

    I’m so sad to hear about Qila — my daughter is 4 and has always paused for a moment outside the Beluga enclosure to quietly watch them swim. Such a hard few years with the loss of Hana and now Qila. Sending positive thoughts and prayers to the extraordinary team you have assembled to care for Aurora.

  6. Donna

    We very much appreciate the care and attention given to mammals that have been injured and unreleasable.It is something to be proud of. I know you will do all you can for,aurora. It is a fine work to save animals and give them a second chance at life. They are well looked after and get a lot of attention. I feel it is a shame that the breeding program is no more as that would let them naturally have a life they would if in the wild. To be denied that when they are all unreleasable is a shame. This is a valuable hospital mostly needed as we humans hurt them in the wild.

  7. Dorothy Young

    My heart goes out to all of you at the Vancouver Aquarium. Your belugas are near and dear to many people’s hearts. I remember so well the beluga encounter I participated in with my ninety year old mother at the Aquarium eight years ago. I still remember the look of delight on her face during the encounter. She often spoke about how wonderful it was, until her passing. I hope you are able to figure out why Qila died and use that information in Aurora’s treatment. Hugs to all.❤️

    • emile mcdonald

      is it possible that the mother is morning for her young one. cats are like that.
      maybe i don,t know.


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