NEWS

Beluga whale Nanuq death will not lead to breeding ban, vows park board chair

02/23/2015 09:42 EST | Updated 04/25/2015 05:59 EDT
Vancouver Park Board chair John Coupar says despite the death of a Vancouver Aquarium beluga in Orlando SeaWorld, he has no plans to reopen the heated debate on cetacean breeding.

Nanuq died at SeaWorld on Thursday. He had been on loan to the U.S. facility for 18 years. While the cause of death is not yet known, the whale had been undergoing treatment for a broken jaw that occurred in an encounter with other animals.

After the death Vancouver Park Commissioner Michael Weibe said he wanted to reopen the debate on whether dolphins and whales should be allowed to breed naturally at the Vancouver Aquarium.

But Coupar, whose NPA party has a majority on the board, said last year's rigorous debate put an end to the issue, with the board voting down a ban on breeding in November.

"There was a lot of consultation last year, extensive consultation. A number of reports came forward. The previous board decided not to enact a breeding ban, and we have said we have a lot of other priorities at park board at the moment," said Coupar.

8 remaining belugas

Vancouver Aquarium is currently undergoing a $100 million expansion that will include the installation of new, larger whale tanks. The aquarium has said it does not have an active breeding program, but that copulation between whales occurs at times.

The aquarium now owns eight belugas, four of which remain in U.S. SeaWorlds. Two are in Georgia Aquarium, and the other two, Aurora and Qila, who is Nanuq's daughter, live in Vancouver's aquarium.

Nanuq was transferred to Orlando SeaWorld in 1997 and moved several times to breed at other facilities. The beluga was a popular attraction for SeaWorld, with celebrities including Will Ferrell posing for photos with the large whale. 

MORE:cbcNews