Winter, the marine mammal that starred in the “Dolphin Tale” movies, died Thursday evening at a Florida aquarium. She was 16.
The bottlenose dolphin died despite life-saving efforts to treat her worsening intestinal problems, aquarium officials said. Animal care experts were preparing Winter for a procedure at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where she had long lived.
In response to learning about Winter’s death, Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson, producers of the movie “Dolphin Tale”, released a joint statement to TheWrap saying, “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.”
“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,” said veterinarian Dr. Shelly Marquardt, in a statement released by the aquarium, according to the The Associated Press.
Alcon Entertainment produced and financed “Dolphin Tale” in 2011. The movie was inspired by the true story of Winter, a bottlenose dolphin that was rescued in December 2005 off the Florida coast and taken in by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Kosove and Johnson are the Co-Founders and Co-CEO’s of Alcon Entertainment.
Winter was two months old when her tail became entangled in a crab trap near Cape Canaveral, which forced its amputation. “Dolphin Tale,” which was released in 2011, chronicled Winter’s recovery and the unprecedented, lengthy effort to fit her with a prosthetic tail.
“Dolphin Tale,” starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Morgan Freeman and Nathan Gamble, shot many scenes at the Clearwater aquarium and other Tampa Bay locations. It made the non-profit aquarium, first opened in 1972 on the site of a former water treatment plant, more well-known.
“Dolphin Tale 2,” released in 2014, starred Winter and Hope, another rescued dolphin cared for by the Clearwater aquarium.