The U.S. Department of Agriculture has concluded that SeaWorld Florida did not violate the federal Animal Welfare Act in the February 20 death of Nanuq, a beluga whale loaned by the Vancouver Aquarium to SeaWorld Orlando for breeding in 1997. The animal, estimated to be about 30 years old or so, was being treated for an infection of a broken jaw that resulted from encounters with other whales, SeaWorld said.
As part of its artificial insemination rounds, Nanuq did time at San Diego’s SeaWorld, where, besides providing sperm, the animal was posed for publicity shots with a number of L.A. celebrities, including actress Isla Fisher in April 2013 and Will Ferrell, who portrayed Ron Burgundy in the San Diego TV-news sendup Anchorman and its sequel, in 2011.
The whale’s death has set off another round of controversy at the Vancouver aquarium over breeding loans, tank size, and related issues. Vancouver currently owns eight belugas, reports Canada’s National Post, with four at the Florida SeaWorld, two in an Atlanta, Georgia, aquarium, and two, including a daughter of Nanuq, remaining at the Canadian aquarium.