Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Imaq and Kavna Update...

On Saturday April 16, the Vancouver Aquarium secretly loaded up Imaq and shipped him to SeaWorld Texas. We knew this was an option for Imaq, but didn't know if the aquarium would go through with it. The V.A. actually had said more then once that moving Imaq could be dangerous to his health.

 So what is next? Imaq is now in Texas, where he will be placed in their breeding program. Back in Vancouver, the aquarium says it is building a new pool for the beluga's. Of course, they have said this for many years, so we will see. Kavna, the female beluga that had been put with Imaq in the tiny medical pool, has been reunited with the other female beluga's.

I have mixed emotions on this move. I am sad that Imaq was not moved to a sea pen and retired, but not surprised. Everyone knows that the money hungry facilities will never willingly release these animals back to their natural waters. BUT, I am happy that Imaq and Kavna are out of that tiny little medical pool. I'm happy that Imaq now has a little more room and Kavna has been reunited with her female pod, in which she is the Matriarch of. Imaq and Kavna had been held in the very small holding pool away from the rest of the Beluga's for many years. I'm glad that they are out of it now. 

I will have more on this story soon!


Vancouver Aquarium beluga whale Imaq secretly relocated to Texas

VANCOUVER -- Nine hours after leaving the Vancouver Aquarium in secret and with a police escort, Imaq, a hefty 23-year-old male beluga, was “checking out the females” at his new SeaWorld home in San Antonio, Tex., said aquarium official Clint Wright on Monday.
The 3,000-pound beluga was relocated Saturday to a pool that houses three breeding-age females, in the hope that he’ll breed with one and a healthy calf will bring the number of belugas in North American aquariums to 39.
“It went about as well as it could,” said Wright, senior vice president of operations and planning. “He swam straight out [into the San Antonio pool], eating fish and checking out the females. He seems very comfortable in his new surroundings.”
Wright said the whale’s Vancouver trainer, Brian Sheehan, accompanied him on the trip, which began Saturday around 6 p.m., when Imaq was lifted onto a stretcher suspended in water inside a 15-foot trailer.
Police, on hand to ensure a smooth trip by stopping traffic at intersections, escorted Imaq to the airport, where the trailer was loaded onto a chartered plane paid for by SeaWorld.
The beluga reached his destination around 3 a.m. Sunday.
Sheehan will remain at SeaWorld for the next few days to ensure Imaq is adapting to his new home, Wright said. SeaWorld staff had spent the previous week in Vancouver getting to know Imaq and his routines, he added.
Imaq’s move was not publicized, Wright said, because the aquarium didn’t want to have to deal with crowds if people came out for his send-off.
The Vancouver Aquarium’s four remaining belugas are all female. One of them, Tiqa, is the only surviving offspring of Imaq. (Two-year-old Tuvaq died of an infection and Nala, a seemingly healthy one-year-old, died suddenly last year.)
Wright said he’s been asked how Tiqa is taking the loss of her father but that it’s a non-issue because they hadn’t been in the same pool. Imaq had been living with the oldest female, Kavna, for the past three years. Wright pointed out that male belugas in the wild often join a bachelor herd after breeding season, from March to May, ends.
And while staff may be missing the outgoing, friendly Imaq, he said, Kavna is showing no signs of distress: “She’s happy to be back with the females. She’s the matriach, and when she went into the pool all the others went behind her.”
He said Tiqa had only known her mother and grandmother so she was curious about Kavna.
Imaq, meanwhile, is taking his place in the hierachy in San Antonio, which houses four other belugas.
Wright said the timing of Imaq’s move was ideal, since besides wanting to diversify their breeding stock, the aquarium will soon begin building a 1.3-million-gallon beluga pool, almost triple the size of its existing one.
He said Imaq is on loan to SeaWorld, so if they ever have concerns about Imaq he’ll be welcomed back. And if he does have a calf, that beluga could end up living in Vancouver.

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