News / Vancouver

Harbour porpoise Daisy dies at Vancouver Aquarium

It’s the fourth cetacean death at the aquarium in 10 months.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

"Daisy" a one-year-old porpoise calf swims at the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday July 29, 2009. The Vancouver Aquarium says a harbour porpoise in its care died on Thursday.

Daisy the harbour porpoise has died at the Vancouver Aquarium, marking the fourth cetacean death at the non-profit facility in 10 months.

The nine-year-old cetacean died Thursday from pulmonary disease, according to preliminary necropsy results.

That same day, the aquarium announced it had filed a legal challenge against the Vancouver Park Board’s decision to ban the aquarium from bringing in any new cetaceans at the facility.

Staff first noticed a change in Daisy’s behaviour earlier this month, according to the aquarium. The organization brought in a radiologist specialist from Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo to help provide around-the-clock care but Daisy died Thursday afternoon, surrounded by staff, including members who were part of the initial rescue team.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans deemed Daisy un-releasable after staff found the one-month-old porpoise stranded on a beach near Victoria in 2008.

The average life span of a harbour porpoise in the wild is eight to 12 years old, according to the Vancouver Aquarium.

Jack, the aquarium’s other harbour-porpoise resident, was about five years old when he died in August 2016.

The aquarium noted that rehabilitating both Jack and Daisy helped staff develop skills that have helped other cetaceans, like Levi, the first harbour porpoise ever rehabilitated and released back into the wild in Canada.

In November 2016, the aquarium’s two remaining belugas, mother and daughter Aurora and Qila, died suddenly.

Those deaths re-ignited the debate about keeping cetaceans in captivity and in May 2017, the park board passed a bylaw amendment that bans the aquarium from keeping cetaceans at the facility again.

The aquarium is currently home to two cetaceans: Chester, a false killer whale, and Helen, a Pacific white-sided dolphin.

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