Beluga whale who inspired Raffi's famous "Baby Beluga" song dies (VIDEO)

Even though I haven't been in grade school for many years now, I can still remember learning the "Baby Beluga" song by Raffi in my first grade classroom. Now sadly, the  whale that inspired the popular children's song has passed away. The famed mammal, whose real name is Kavna, died at age 46, Monday afternoon in a Vancouver aquarium. A preliminary autopsy revealed that Kavna may have died due to a cancer-related disease. Amazingly, aquarium workers speculate that she exceeded the usual 25 to 30 year life expectancy rate of her species. 


The aquarium's veterinarian, Dr. Martin Haulena, who conducted the test, discovered various cancer lesions that signified the quick spread of the illness. Dr. Haulena claims that Kavna lived an overall healthy life, but died because of old age.  

Kavna's fame began in 1975 after the children's singer/songwriter, Raffi Cavoukian paid a visit to the Vancouver aquarium and had a special moment with the water mammal. Cavokian wrote "Baby Beluga," a song about an imaginary whale who plays and sings by the sea. The songwriter recalls his experience and says, "The folks at the aquarium brought me poolside and Kavna even came out of the water and placed a gentle, graceful kiss on my cheek and I couldn't stop talking about it for a couple of weeks!"

 Although the whale was held captive for most of her life, Cavokian remembers her as a gentle creature."She was so playful and she had a very pure spirit and you could swear she smiled at you." The singer expressed his condolences via his Twitter page and shared a picture of him and the beloved mammal from a CBS appearance in 1981.

As sad as I was to learn about Kavna's passing, I'm happy to hear that she lived a long and healthy life for the most part.  I recall how obsessed I was with the song "Baby Beluga" which drove my mother crazy at times and the big part it played in the beginnings of my school years. As a pet owner I understand the attachment that comes with that sort of bond. To this day I still get excited to visit the aquarium or the zoo, not just because I'm an animal lover, but because I secretly hope to have a special encounter with an exotic animal one day. You've seen Free Willy--it can happen!

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Image via Vancouver Aquarium