The Vancouver Aquarium experienced another terrible loss of one of its belugas. Qila, the week of November 14, 2016, passed due to an ailment that has yet to be confirmed by the Vancouver Aquarium.
Qila's mother, Aurora, who shared a tank with Qila, is now also experiencing similar symptoms and may also die in the near future. The staff at the Vancouver Aquarium say they are "shocked" and that her death is like losing a family member. If the Vancouver Aquarium genuinely cares about its cetaceans, it should finally do the right thing and commit to no longer keep them in captivity. Whales and Belugas should not be held in small (or in any) concrete tanks for their entire lives. Watching them swim around these terribly small tanks adds nothing to rehabilitation, research/conservation, and education. I used to work and volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation centre. We took in only the injured who could be rehabilitated and released. It did not make any sense both economically and morally to keep any rescued species in captivity. If the Vancouver Aquarium was a true rehabilitation centre they would follow the same practice. Instead, they use animals as a revenue generator. There are now reputable and solid scientific views that cetaceans, including the ones held at the Vancouver Aquarium, are displaying major signs of psychological distress.
In regard to conservation, there is little, if anything at all, that can be learned about cetaceans in the wild by observing them swim in concrete tanks. All that can be learned by studying cetaceans in captivity is how cetaceans adapt to being in captivity. There are also no examples of how cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium contributed in any way to the conservation of belugas in the wild. As for education, taking our children to see the whales and dolphins in these tanks may fascinate them, but all we are teaching is imprisoning intelligent, sentient beings, in small concrete tanks for our brief viewing pleasures is acceptable. Instead, we should teach our children to respect wildlife and to protect their habitat so they can live out their lives safely and freely.