Dolphin Tale star Winter ‘who inspired many’ dies aged 16 after gastrointestinal infection

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Winter the Dolphin has sadly died after tests confirmed earlier in the week that the animal was battling a gastrointestinal infection. The animal starred in the 2011 film Dolphin Tale which starred Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.

Winter also made an appearance in the movie’s 2014 sequel.

The bottlenose dolphin died on Thursday shortly before undergoing a potentially life-saving procedure, according to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where she was homed.

The aquarium in Florida said her vital signs and behaviour declined and she died around 8pm while surrounded by her caretakers.

The aquarium announced that it would be shut on Friday to allow staff members to grieve and also said plans for a memorial will be revealed in due course.

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“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 CMA team expresses our deepest gratitude to the thousands of people from around the world who sent caring messages for Winter. 

“She truly inspired hope and was loved by millions of people worldwide.”

A statement by Dr Shelly Marquardt of the aquarium read: “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.”

The dolphin was first noticed to be in distress on November 1 when she didn’t show any interest in eating.

Despite treatment, Winter showed no signs of improvement before her death.

Winter lost her tail in 2005 aged just two months after becoming entangled in a crab trap. 

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She spent her entire life afterwards at the aquarium and was given a prosthetic to use.

After hearing the news, many fans took to social media to share their sorrow.

One fan wrote on Twitter: “Sending a little prayer out there for Winter The Dolphin! 

“RIP and hope you are finally up there swimming with a tail and your Pod in ‘Dolphin Heaven’.”

Another penned: “Some sad news Winter The Dolphin has sadly passed away she inspired so many people and was what inspired the Dolphin Tale movies. 

“RIP Winter fly high you sweet and precious angel.”

And a third said: “I remember when I was little and I first moved to Florida- I didn’t go to Disney, I didn’t go to Busch Gardens. I went to the aquarium to see Winter the dolphin bc I thought she was so cool. a life well lived but will forever be missed. thank you for inspiring so many.” (sic)

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