Vet: Whale behind hit 'Baby Beluga' song may have died of cancer
Published Tuesday, August 7, 2012 6:51AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 7, 2012 11:41PM EDT
The Vancouver Aquarium’s oldest beluga whale appeared to have died of cancer related to old age, according to an aquarium veterinarian.
Kavna, a female whale believed to be about 46 years old, died at the aquarium on Monday.
Her health had steadily deteriorated over the past week as fluid and other debris built up in her reproductive system, Dr. Martin Haulena told the Canadian Press on Tuesday.
“At approximately 46 years old, Kavna was considered to be at the end of her life,” the aquarium said in a prepared statement.
The hulking whale was believed to be the oldest captive beluga in North America.
But Canadians might be most familiar with Kavna as the inspiration behind the hit song “Baby Beluga” by singer-songwriter Raffi Cavoukian.
The song doesn’t outright name the whale, but the singer has noted that he penned the catchy children’s song after meeting the whale in the late 1970s.
In a message posted to Twitter, Cavoukian noted that “her voice is likely in the intro and close of the Baby Beluga recording.”
Kavna arrived at the Vancouver Aquarium in 1976, seven years after being captured in the Hudson Bay off Churchill, Man.
“Kavna, who has enchanted the hearts and admiration of millions of visitors, will be greatly missed,” read the Vancouver Aquarium statement.
Her passing marks the Vancouver Aquarium’s second beluga death in less than a year.
A three-year-old beluga calf named Tiqa died last September. The cause of death is believed to be heart failure induced by pneumonia.
Tiqa was born to Qila in June 2008, and is believed to be the first calf in Canada to be born to an aquarium-born beluga. Qila’s father Nanuq was transferred to Sea World in San Antonio.
Beluga whales in the wild are believed to live to about 25 to 30 years old.