CHICAGO — The Shedd Aquarium is mourning the death of their beloved beluga whale Mauyak.
The female died at 41 Saturday and was the matriarch of the aquarium’s beluga pod.
Mauyak, whose name meant “soft snow,” arrived from Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington in 1997.
At 11-feet long and 1,500 lbs., the whale was frequently spotted spyhopping and squirting water.
“She quickly became, and remained throughout her long life, an incredible ambassador for beluga whales, touching the lives of millions of people who were able to look her in the eye, marvel at her beauty, and experience her one-of-a-kind characteristics.” said Senior Animal Caretaker Megan Vens-Policky.
Scientists estimate the average life expectancy for beluga whales in human care to be 30-35 years, which is “equal to, if not greater than” wild beluga whales, according to Shedd.