False killer whale named Chester is Vancouver Aquarium's sixth marine mammal to die in three years

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      A false killer whale that was housed at the Vancouver Aquarium has died.

      The cetacean, a member of the dolphin family named Chester, was found in distress near Tofino in July 2014. He died early this morning (November 24), the aquarium has confirmed. It's believed the animal was about three and a half years old.

      The cause of death remains unknown. The nonprofit organization has scheduled a necropsy for later today.

      Chester is the fifth cetacean to die in tanks at the Vancouver Aquarium’s facility in Stanley Park in less than three years.

      Two beluga whales named Aurora and Qila passed away in November 2016.

      In August 2016, a harbour porpoise named Jack died.

      In May 2015, a dolphin named Hana passed away shortly after undergoing bowel surgery.

      In addition, other marine mammals that the Vancouver Aquarium is associated with but which it does not keep in Stanley Park have died during the same period.

      In July of 2015, a beluga whale whose father is owned by the Vancouver Aquarium died at a SeaWorld facility in San Antonia, Texas. The calf was just three weeks old. Before that, in February 2015, a beluga whale named Nanuq died while on loan to a SeaWorld facility in Orlando, Florida.

      At Stanley Park, the aquarium is left with only one cetacean still alive: a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Helen.

      However, a July 2014 park board report revealed that in addition to those animals that have died, the Vancouver Aquarium owns five other beluga whales.

      Three are believed to be at SeaWorld facilities in the United States and two are at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

      At least some of those animals housed in American aquariums are there on breeding loans. The terms of those arrangements can see the ownership of calves fathered by Vancouver Aquarium whales alternate between the Vancouver Aquarium and the American facility that housed the animal during the period of conception.

      The park board placed a ban on the Vancouver Aquarium capturing wild animals for display purposes in 1996. Since then, any new addition has been classified as a "rescued" animal or was born in captivity.

      The Vancouver Aquarium has come under increasing pressure to end its whale and dolphin programs since a 2014 feature article in the Georgia Straight raised concerns about the long-term effects of captivity programs.

      In May 2017, the Vancouver park board voted to phase out cetacean captivity at the aquarium, which is located on land controlled by the board. The bylaw amendment forbids the organization from bringing any additional whales and dolphins to Stanley Park. Shortly after, the aquarium said it was filing for a judicial review of that decision.

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