Winter the dolphin, star of ‘Dolphin Tale,’ is critically ill

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CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Winter the Dolphin, star of “Dolphin Tale,” is in critical condition, according to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Earlier this week, WFLA reported that the 16-year-old marine mammal was fighting a gastrointestinal infection.

“She wasn’t quite eating as much as she typically would, so that kind of ramped things up in terms of us wanting to do more in terms of her care,” CMA President Dr. James Powell said. “She’s very special; the world adores her.”

On Wednesday evening, the aquarium said Winter was in critical condition and that her infection was getting worse. They’ve been reaching out to animal care and veterinary specialists across the country and were “exploring all possible options to save Winter’s life,” CMA said on Facebook.

The aquarium will be closed to the public Friday “to focus that vital care for Winter and create the best possible environment for her medical team,” the statement said. The facility plans to reopen on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Powell said earlier this week that Winter’s caretakers were going to do everything they “possibly can to make sure she gets the correct treatment.”

Winter made national headlines in 2005 when she was rescued off the Florida coast and taken to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The bottlenose dolphin had become entangled in a crab trap line and lost her tail. She later received a prosthetic replacement.

Winter’s story inspired the film “Dolphin Tale,” starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, and Morgan Freeman.

Powell said those caring for Winter will run blood tests and continue to monitor and interact with the dolphin.

“We’re looking at it holistically from a medical standpoint but also behaviorally,” Powell said.

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