Parents and nursery school teachers singing the beloved children’s song “Baby Beluga” by Raffi (a.k.a. Raffi Cavoukian) will have to wipe away a tear today after the final chorus: Kavna, the whale who inspired the song, died of cancer Monday at the Vancouver Aquarium at the age of 46. In other news, you are old.
Update: Raffi is now saying that the song wasn’t “about” Kavna, simply “inspired by” her. This seems like a pretty academic distinction but okay?
Kavna, thought to be the oldest Beluga in captivity, first “met” (can an animal meet a person? People can meet animals but the opposite seems a bit silly, right?) Cavoukian in 1979. “Kavna even 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!” said the child’s folk singer/environmental activist/beardo. He wrote “Baby Beluga” shortly after this fateful encounter, and the song, like Kavna, went on to have a long life. It appeared in 1993 in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, in 2011 in a campaign to persuade young people to vote in the Canadian elections, and every year until infinity in the back seats of minivans everywhere.
Condolences to all those who grew up loving this song, whom Cavoukian lovingly referred to as “Beluga Grads.” And condolences also to all those who grew up hating it, since it’s going to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Whale who inspired "Baby Beluga" dies, SFGate.
Get Grist in your inbox