October 22, 2015
The Georgia Aquarium family is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our beloved female beluga whale, Maris, who passed away this afternoon. “Maris was one of the first beluga whales at Georgia Aquarium and inspired millions of guests each year. The bonds that were created over the last ten years between Maris and her animal care and veterinary teams were truly special. This unexpected loss is difficult,” said Mike Leven, the Aquarium’s chairman and chief executive officer.
Georgia Aquarium veterinary and animal care experts perform routine exams on all of our animals and at Maris’ most recent exam, she showed all signs of a healthy beluga whale. She had been eating normally and engaging in enrichment and interaction with our two other beluga whales, Grayson and Qinu.
“This is a case of sudden, acute animal death,” said Dr. Gregory Bossart, senior vice president and chief veterinary officer of Georgia Aquarium. “Our animals receive exceptional care, and our dedicated team of experts responded to her within minutes to render aid.”
At this time a necropsy, or animal autopsy, has begun and our veterinarians are working with pathologists from University of Georgia to determine the cause of death. It will be weeks before all tests and evaluations are finalized, however an exact cause of death may never be known for sure.
As this is a profoundly hard time for all of the Aquarium family, we remain grateful for the many years we were able to care for her and the moments our guests shared with her. Maris cultivated a passion of conservation and education for her amazing species and she will be greatly missed.
The beluga whale habitat remains open to the public with whales Qinu and Grayson. If you wish to express your condolences, we encourage you to send your well-wishes to Georgia Aquarium social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.