11:02 PM EDT 08/24/2014
Originally posted 08/10/2012 06:45AM
After experiencing a sudden decline in her health, Kavna, a 46-year-old beluga whale residing at Vancouver Aquarium, died on Monday, with a necropsy later showing cancerous lesions.
The whale served as the inspiration for the children's song "Baby Beluga," about an imaginary whale that swims wild and free in the ocean. The song was penned by Canadian artist Raffi Cavoukian after he met Kavna in 1979.
"She had a profound impact on me," he told Canadian radio station News 1130. "[Kavna] came out of the water and placed a gentle, graceful kiss on my cheek and I couldn't stop talking about it for a couple of weeks! That encounter inspired the song "Baby Beluga," and as I like to say, the song set the whale free."
Top 10 News Categories
The most buzzed about stars this minute!
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
More On PEOPLE.com
Got a News Tip?
Send it to our People.com editors!