Baby beluga whale Kavna, who lived in captivity her entire life and had been at the Vancouver Aquarium since 1976, died on Monday. She was estimated to be about 46-years old.
Kavna was well-known for her sweet disposition and inspired children's songwriter Raffi to pen a tune about an imaginary baby whale in the '80s called "Baby Beluga". After visiting the aquarium and meeting Kavna, Raffi said he couldn't stop talking about the interaction for weeks.
"The folks at the aquarium brought me to poolside and the trainer helped me to play with Kavna," Raffi said. "She even came out of the water and placed a gentle, graceful kiss on my cheek...She was just so beautiful. She was so playful and she had a very pure spirit and you could swear she smiled at you."
Although Kavna enjoyed a very long life for a beluga, her health had been declining in recent weeks, and when an autopsy was performed, several cancerous lesions were found. Doctors think those could have played a significant role in her death. And although she was healthy for most of her life, she gave birth to a calf soon after her arrival at the aquarium which died shortly after.
"On a day like this, I'm mostly thinking about the joy of knowing Kavna and the profound impact of the close encounter that would not have been possible in any other way," Raffi said.