Clearwater Marine Aquarium, 'Dolphin Tale' star Winter the Dolphin dies at 16

click to enlarge Clearwater Marine Aquarium, 'Dolphin Tale' star Winter the Dolphin dies at 16
Photo via Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced that Winter the Dolphin died last night. The famous dolphin with a prosthetic tail, whose rescue was fictionalized in the movie A Dolphin Tale, passed away ahead of a surgery to treat ongoing gastrointestinal problems. The 16-year-old dolphin had been in the care of the aquarium for almost its entire life.

"With heavy hearts, Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced tonight that Winter the Dolphin died at approximately 8 p.m. as animal care experts from around the country worked to treat her gastrointestinal abnormality. The CMA family is devastated," the aquarium shared. "During preparation for a procedure, the CMA Animal Care team observed that Winter’s behavior and vital signs were declining. The medical team tried several life-saving efforts, but she died being held by her caregivers."

The dolphin was first reported to be ill earlier this week, and its condition rapidly worsened. The aquarium planned a closure to focus care on the sick animal. They will still be closed on Friday to allow staff to grieve.

“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. Our staff worked around the clock during this challenging time,” Veterinarian Dr. Shelly Marquardt said in a statement from the aquarium. “I’m honored to work alongside such dedicated and talented professionals who gave their all for Winter.”

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