Dolphin Tale Star Winter the Dolphin Is in Critical Condition After Suffering Infection

The animal star of Dolphin Tale is facing her toughest challenge yet. Winter the dolphin, who was rescued in 2005 and given a prosthetic tail after losing her own, was featured in the 2011 movie which was based on her real life. Sadly, Winter recently suffered an infection, and her condition has taken a turn for the worse. Her caretakers are now working feverishly to help save the star sea creature.

“Earlier this week we shared that initial tests indicated Winter the Dolphin was likely fighting a gastrointestinal infection,” reads a statement posted online by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. “Today, test results show that despite treatment her intestinal abnormalities have intensified, making Winter’s condition critical. The dedicated CMA animal care experts are consulting with top animal care and veterinary specialists in the country and exploring all possible options to save Winter’s life.”


CMA notes that their priority is to provide the best care to their animals, and to give Winter their utmost attention, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium will be temporarily closed. The statement adds, “On behalf of the CMA staff and Winter’s care team, we thank everyone for the incredible outpour of love and support you have shown Winter since her rescue in 2005 and especially these last few days. 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. We will share updates as they become available. Thank you for your care and consideration during this time.”

“These intestinal issues are not uncommon in marine mammals,” CMA executive director Dr. James “Buddy” Powell also told the Tampa Bay Times. “Actually Winter before this has had some of these issues, but this time it has just continued to progress. There are treatments, but she hasn’t responded. So it still is a little bit of a mystery as to what caused it… Sixteen is not that young nor that old for a dolphin. We are paying very close attention to this.”

Dolphin Tale was directed by Charles Martin Smith and written by Karen Janszen and Noam Dromi. It stars Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson, Cozi Zuehlsdorff, and Morgan Freeman. It is directly inspired by the true-life story of Winter, a bottlenose dolphin rescued in 2006 and has since been cared for by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. She has required special care for all her life since losing her tail that was caught in a crab trap, having been fitted with her own prosthetic tail.

Because Dolphin Tale was a hit, it was given its own sequel which was released in 2014. Winter returned along with the main cast of the original movie for a new adventure, and the movie was a modest success. There had been some discussions in the past about a third Dolphin Tale movie, with CMA CEO David Yates teased that a third movie was in the early plans as was a television series adaptation. In 2016, a web series called Rescue Clearwater was launched on YouTube.

Best wishes to Winter at Clearwater Marine Aquarium with her healing and recovery.Dolphin Tale is currently streaming on HBO Max. TMZ was the first to report this news.

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