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MYSTIC, Conn. — A 9-year-old Mystic Aquarium beluga whale named Kharabali has died, marking the third death among five whales that were transported there from Canada in 2021.

Kharabali began swimming abnormally in November and “his strange behavior continued to progress.” She was eventually transferred to the intensive care unit at the aquarium's Center for Aquatic Animal Studies and died on Monday, the aquarium announced Tuesday.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of his death.

“His spirit touched us all and we are heartbroken by his death. Kharabali received the utmost care and love during her time with us, and we will always cherish the moments we shared,” said Dr. Allison Tuttle, zoo director, in a press release.

Kharabali is the third whale from Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, to die after arriving at Mystic Aquarium. A male beluga named Havok died in August 2021, and a female named Havana died in February 2022.

Both whales had incurable conditions that led to their deaths, the aquarium said.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection following Havoc's death found problems in the care of that whale and others. An aquarium spokeswoman said at the time that issues raised in the inspection were being addressed.

A third whale, Jetta, who fell ill in 2021, is now thriving, according to the aquarium.

Animal rights activists unsuccessfully filed lawsuits to block the whale's transport, saying a permit granted by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service did not adequately address the potential harm to belugas caused by being transferred to the Connecticut Aquarium.

The whales, who were between 7 and 12 years old at the time of transport, were born in captivity and authorities say they cannot be safely released into the ocean.

The aquarium said it provided Kharabali with medical treatment and 24-hour monitoring.

“This loss weighs heavily on us,” the aquarium said in its press release, “especially on our animal care staff.”

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