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Beloved ‘Dolphin Tale’ Star Winter Dies At Florida Aquarium

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — A prosthetic-tailed dolphin named Winter that starred within the “Dolphin Story” films died Thursday night at a Florida aquarium regardless of life-saving efforts to deal with a gastrointestinal abnormality, aquarium officers mentioned.

The 16-year-old feminine bottlenose dolphin died whereas being held by animal care consultants who have been making ready Winter for a process on the Clearwater Marine Aquarium the place the well-known marine mammal has lengthy resided.

“Whereas we’re heartbroken by Winter’s demise, we’re comforted figuring out that our workforce did every little thing potential to provide her the perfect probability at survival,” mentioned veterinarian Dr. Shelly Marquardt, in an announcement launched by the aquarium.

Winter, a prosthetic-tailed dolphin who starred within the “Dolphin Story” films, has died.

Jim Damaske/Tampa Bay Instances by way of AP, File

Marquardt mentioned the aquarium labored with specialists and marine mammal consultants from across the nation however the dolphin, which was in vital situation and declining, died whereas being held by caregivers.

The assertion mentioned the aquarium would stay closed on Friday to supply employees time to grieve. It had earlier mentioned a Friday closure would permit staff to give attention to the dolphin’s medical care with plans to reopen Saturday.

James “Buddy” Powell, president of the aquarium, instructed reporters Thursday that the ability’s employees and outdoors consultants have been doing every little thing potential in search of to revive the dolphin to well being.

Winter beforehand skilled intestinal points — not unusual amongst dolphins — however such issues have by no means affected her like this, Powell had mentioned Thursday. However on the time, he mentioned Winter was not responding to therapy as up to now, including there was no proof Winter had the coronavirus.

Winter was two months outdated when her tail turned entangled in a crab entice close to Cape Canaveral, which pressured its amputation. “Dolphin Story,” which was launched in 2011, chronicled Winter’s restoration and the unprecedented, prolonged effort to suit her with a prosthetic tail.

The movie, starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Morgan Freeman and Nathan Gamble, was largely shot on the Clearwater aquarium and surrounding Tampa Bay places. It put the non-profit aquarium, first opened in 1972 on the location of a former water therapy plant, on the map internationally.

“This place wouldn’t be right here if it wasn’t for Winter,” Powell mentioned.

Winter’s story of rehabilitation has turn into an inspiration for disabled folks world wide and the aquarium has acquired 1000’s of messages of help since Winter’s sickness turned identified.

“Many are impressed by her resiliency and this superb response reminds us of how deeply she has affected tens of millions, together with so many on their very own well being journey,” the aquarium assertion mentioned.

A sequel, “Dolphin Story 2,” was launched three years later starring Winter and Hope, one other rescued dolphin cared for by the Clearwater aquarium.

Bottlenose dolphins can stay as much as 60 years and are thought-about probably the most clever of all animal species.

Winter and Hope turned essentially the most well-known residents of the Clearwater aquarium, which additionally operates sea turtle and manatee rescue packages.

An $80 million growth of the ability was just lately accomplished, together with a 1.5 million-gallon (5.6 million-liter) new dolphin complicated, to deal with the crowds which have descended on the aquarium since “Dolphin Story” was launched a decade in the past.

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