Thursday, January 27, 2011

Imaq and Kavna

    If you travel to the Vancouver Aquarium, you will see all kinds of marine life on display, everything from jellyfish to Beluga whales. The Aquarium is the home of many beluga whales, but there are two that have become very special. Imaq (EE-mack), the only male at the aquarium and Kavna, the oldest female. However, if you visit the Vancouver Aquarium, you will likely not find Imaq and Kavna on display. Why not, you ask? The reason is because Imaq and Kavna have been placed in a research holding tank, that is off display, and away from public viewing. Why, you ask? From what the aquarium staff says, Imaq likes the ladies, so he must stay separate from them, unless its time to breed. The fear is, if one of the females is pregnant, Imaq may endanger her. Of course this also means that if there is a new baby at the facility, Imaq must be kept away, for the same reason. And given the aquarium is a breeding facility (a very unsuccessful on at that), Imaq is not allowed to be in the main tank, most of the time. But what about Kavna? Why is she being held in the tiny research tank, and not with the other females? Well, the Vancouver Aquarium is accredited by Association of Zoo's and Aquariums (among others) and the rule is that these animals must not be housed alone. So, Kavna was picked to be Imaq's tank mate by the staff of the facility. The tank that these two live in is extremely small. Some say the size doesn't seem to phase Kavna, but Imaq shows signs of stress in the small 10 foot deep pool.
  Kavna is est. to have been born in about 1969 (which would make her about 42 years old). She came to live at the facility in 1976, after she was captured near Churchill, Manitoba.  When Kavna was captured, she was pregnant, but no one knew or suspected it. The staff was shocked when she went in labor and gave birth to a calf they would name Tuaq. Sadly, 4 months later Tuaq died of malnutrition and a bacterial infection.

  Imaq is est to have born in about 1987 (which would make him about 24 years old). He was captured in Churchill Manitoba and arrived at the Vancouver Aquarium in 1990. Imaq is the male at the facility, and is used for breeding.
   Kavna is dominate over Imaq, and does not like to socialize with him. This leaves Imaq board, somewhat bullied, and lonely. He does not have much to do in their tiny little tank, and spends much of his time just swimming in circles. Kavna, does not seem to mind the size of the tank, but she longs to be in the main tank, where she plays with her human visitors in the giant underwater viewing area.

    I came to know these two very special beluga's, when a friend of mine, Mijanou Bauchau, posted a link about Imaq, and a group trying to help him out. I has heartbroken to read about these two whales, and asked Mijanou for more info. It was at this point that she told me a story of her experience with Kavna, that left me wanting to do whatever I could to help. Mijanou told me of how she meet Kavna on a trip to Vancouver. She found her at the underwater viewing area, and how Kavna played with her through the glass. Mijanou quickly feel in love with Kavna and visited her everyday while in Vancouver. She felt an amazing bond with her and she was sad to have to leave. On a quick trip back to Vancouver, Mijanou went back to the facility to see Kavna, but when she got to their hang out spot, Kavna was no where to be seen. Fearing the worst she found a worker and asked where she was. The worker explained to her that she was off display due to Imaq needing a friend. She begged them to see her, but they denied her access. Mijanou left Vancouver with out seeing her whale friend, and with a broken heart.  To make matters worse, her computer crashed and all of her pictures of Kavna where lost.


  After hearing the story I vowed to raise awareness of these two amazing creatures. For one, these animals should not be punished and put into a tiny tank, because the facility is not big enough to house the amount of whales it has. It is not Imaq fault that he is the only male in the facility and is naturally attracted to them. And Kavna should not be punished simply because Imaq needs a pal, which they aren't anyways. If this facility wishes to house these animals it is their responsibility to care for them and house them properly. If they can not meet the needs of the animals they house, then they need to move them to a place that can, like a large sea pen.

 I hope that everyone will join in the effort to help these to special belugas. They need your help, badly. We must put the animals best interest first and tell the Vancouver to either make a larger tank for Imaq, send him to a new facility that can give him more space, or even better....send him home! Remember Freedom is the ultimate goal, but in the mean time, we must demand that these animals are given the best care possible!

 You can find more information about Imaq and the group trying to help him, Captive Ambassadors, by clicking here.


  1. Thank you for bringing this story to a Canadian I was horrified to know that whales are being taken right here in our waters for the Entertainment Industry...there is a saying "You don't know what you don't know"..

    Now that I know I will get this message out thru my circle...let's all work together to give Kavna and Imaq proper facilities...

    Jackie ~~><(((º>~

  2. Is Canada still taking whales for the entertainment industry?! And beyond proper facilities, how about getting them back from where they were taken?

  3. Aloha from Kauai ... Will share... Eric and Chasity what would you like to see happen to these to Imaq & Kavna ? Chis Porter is very much behind your efforts ... MAHALO for all you are doing !

  4. OMG, that is all we can say after reading about these poor creatures. Our founders are writing letters as we speak in an effort to help.

    Thanks for sharing from all of us at OMG ;-)

  5. OMG Kids~ I have not heard of your group, but will check it out. We are fans of all groups trying to do right by animals! :)

    Anonymous~ We are working with Chris and his group, I have been in touch with him any times on this issue. As far as what we would like to see happen, of course we want them back in the wild. But we also know that its not that Black and white. We feel, just as Chris does, that we can not be all or nothing, because its the animals that suffer. If the facility refuses to take steps to release them, then they MUST supply them with a new tank. The main tank is only built to house 3 whales, they already have more then that, and have plans to keep breeding. So regardless their main tank is to small. Every time a female becomes pg or their is a baby Imaq will have to be separated, Kavna going with him. This means that they will always be off display, except maybe a few months out of a year. This is unacceptable in our eyes. If you have an animal for display reasons, they should be on display. If they facility would build a new tank, then they should be made to send these whales to a facility that can care for them. I activist saying take these animals away from their families and send them somewhere else! Its crazy, and I NEVER thought I would hear myself say it. BUT we HAVE to think about the animals. They are what are important. If the Vancouver Aquarium wont set them free, or wont build a new tank, these whales need to be sent somewhere that can give them the care and space needed. And considering the baby died last summer due to having 3 large pebbles and a penny lodged in her blow hole, and the facility has not even taken action to prevent it from happening again, I don't see them making a new tank. They have been all talk when it comes to rebuilding. They need to take action now, and do the right thing for the animals, not their pocket books.

    Dian~ They are no longer taking them from the wild. I would love to see these two put into a Bay or sea pen and one day be released.

  6. belle et triste histoire ! l'homme n'est pas le propriétaire de l"animal ! laissez les vivreent en paix et aider ceux qui les aimes