The star of the film Dolphin Tale, Winter the dolphin, has died from an illness. Tests earlier this week showed she was fighting a gastrointestinal infection that worsened, according to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The bottle nose dolphin died on Thursday.
Winter, age 16, was being prepped for a procedure when her vital signs and behavior declined, the Florida aquarium wrote on its website. She died about 8 PM, surrounded by her caretakers.
“While we are heartbroken by Winter’s death, we are comforted knowing that our team did everything possible to give her the best chance at survival. We worked with specialists and marine mammal experts from around the country to provide her with the best care available,” Dr. Shelly Marquardt said in the statement.
The dolphin was first noticed to be in distress on Nov. 1. She showed little interest in eating, and her symptoms intensified despite treatment.
Winter starred in the 2011 film Dolphin Tale and the 2014 film Dolphin Tale 2 with Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, and Morgan Freeman.
After being caught in a crab trap line in 2005, the dolphin lost her tail and was given a prosthetic to use instead.
“Many are inspired by her resiliency and this amazing response reminds us of how deeply she has affected millions, including so many on their own health journey,” the aquarium said in a news release.
The aquarium will be closed to the public Friday to allow the staff to grieve. It will reopen Saturday and plans for a memorial will be announced soon, the aquarium said.
“The CMA team expresses our deepest gratitude to the thousands of people from around the world who sent caring messages for Winter,” the aquarium said Thursday. “She truly inspired hope and was loved by millions of people worldwide.”
In response to learning about Winter’s death, Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson, producers of the movie “Dolphin Tale”, released a joint statement stating, “Winter was an extraordinary creature. She inspired millions of people all over the world with her courage, her fortitude, and her joy. She may no longer be with us in body, but her indomitable spirit will continue on through the lives of all those that she touched. We are deeply honored to have been a part of telling her amazing story to so many fans across the globe.”
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