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Bacterial infection linked to death of Aquarium's false killer whale

Chester, a false killer whale that was taken into the care of the Vancouver Aquarium after he was found injured near Tofino in 2014, died Nov. 24, 2017. (Lasia Kretzel NEWS 1130 Photo)

Chester died last Friday after his behaviour changed just 48 hours earlier

Another animal is being treated with antibiotics as a precaution

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver Aquarium says preliminary results from a necropsy show a false killer whale that died at the facility last Friday had a bacterial infection.

An email statement from the aquarium says it appears Chester, the three-year-old false killer whale, died of erysipelas, an illness veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena adds has resulted in the deaths of wild cetaceans and those in human care.

Haulena says it is the first known case of the disease at the facility.

Because it is infectious, Haulena says Helen, a Pacific white sided dolphin who shared a pool with Chester, is being treated with antibiotics.

Chester was brought to the aquarium when he was just a few weeks old, after being found stranded on a Vancouver Island beach in July 2014.

The aquarium has said the false killer whale, a member of the dolphin family, remained a “health challenged animal” throughout his life.

Chester’s death came nearly exactly one year after daughter/mother belugas Qila and Aurora died of an unknown illness just days apart at the aquarium. Their deaths prompted ongoing debate about keeping cetaceans in captivity, leading to a ban being implemented by the Vancouver Park Board.