It’s with immense sadness that we share the passing of beluga whale Aurora. As detailed last week and through daily updates on her condition, Aurora had been sick for the past two weeks, showing symptoms of abdominal cramping, loss of appetite and lethargy. Our marine mammal care team, under the guidance of head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena, and a host of veterinary specialists, pathologists, marine biologists and other experts from around-the-world, had been working relentlessly to provide treatment, investigate her symptoms, adjust her medication, and ensure she had therapeutic care.
After a determined around-the-clock effort by animal care staff and the veterinary team, she slipped away this evening surrounded by the people who loved her, some whom have cared for her since she first arrived in 1990. To our team, Aurora was a part of our family and her loss is absolutely heartbreaking. The marine mammal care team working night and day to care for her are our true heroes, even if we lost the battle.
We will continue to explore the cause or causes of Qila and Aurora’s sudden illness — a necropsy will be conducted by Dr. Haulena and he will continue to consult with other specialists across the globe as we continue the investigation.
Named after the aurora borealis, or northern lights, Aurora immediately won hearts and inspired generations of visitors, employees and volunteers with her curious nature and gentle personality. Along with the other belugas at the Aquarium, including her daughter Qila, Aurora taught millions about her incredible species and its rapidly changing ecosystem in the wild. The whales have contributed to studies on their physiology, hearing and acoustic abilities; provided baseline data for studies in the wild; and helped scientists discover unique vocalizations between beluga whale mothers and calves, called contact calls. This groundbreaking research began at Vancouver Aquarium in 2002; beluga whales Aurora and Qila contributed to those early studies.
The past two weeks have been extremely difficult and today’s loss has left a hole in our hearts. On behalf of our team of 1,500 staff and volunteers, we’d like to thank everyone who has reached out to us with warm messages of support and offers of help. You’ve shared countless stories of how Aurora and Qila have impacted you and your family and we’re grateful to everyone who has shared those connections with us. Please continue doing so.