Beloved 'Dolphin Tale' star Winter died of twisted intestine

  • FILE - Abby Stone gives Winter, the tail-less dolphin a smooch during a recent training session in his tank at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Sept. 4, 2011.  The prosthetic-tailed dolphin, Winter, that starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality.  (Jim Damaske/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

    FILE - Abby Stone gives Winter, the tail-less dolphin a smooch during a recent training session in his tank at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Sept. 4, 2011. The prosthetic-tailed dolphin, Winter, that starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality. (Jim Damaske/Tampa Bay Times via AP) Associated Press

  • FILE - Winter the dolphin swims Aug. 3, 2011, at Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Fla. Winter starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality.

    FILE - Winter the dolphin swims Aug. 3, 2011, at Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Fla. Winter starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality. Associated Press

  • FILE - Clearwater Marine Aquarium senior marine mammal trainer Abby Stone kisses Winter the dolphin during a show Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, in Clearwater, Fla. Winter starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality.

    FILE - Clearwater Marine Aquarium senior marine mammal trainer Abby Stone kisses Winter the dolphin during a show Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, in Clearwater, Fla. Winter starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality. Associated Press

  • FILE - Clearwater Marine Aquarium senior marine mammal trainer Abby Stone fits Winter the dolphin with a prosthetic tail in Clearwater, Fla. Winter starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality.

    FILE - Clearwater Marine Aquarium senior marine mammal trainer Abby Stone fits Winter the dolphin with a prosthetic tail in Clearwater, Fla. Winter starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality. Associated Press

  • FILE - Clearwater Marine Aquarium trainer Abby Stone checks the movement on Winter the dolphins new artificial tail while Panama keeps a watchful eye. - Winter, the tail-less dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, got an updated version of her prosthetic tail on July 12, 2008.  The prosthetic-tailed dolphin, Winter, that starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality.  (Jim Damaske/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

    FILE - Clearwater Marine Aquarium trainer Abby Stone checks the movement on Winter the dolphins new artificial tail while Panama keeps a watchful eye. - Winter, the tail-less dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, got an updated version of her prosthetic tail on July 12, 2008. The prosthetic-tailed dolphin, Winter, that starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality. (Jim Damaske/Tampa Bay Times via AP) Associated Press

  • FILE - Winter the dolphin swims Aug. 31, 2011 in a tank in Clearwater, Fla. Winter starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality.

    FILE - Winter the dolphin swims Aug. 31, 2011 in a tank in Clearwater, Fla. Winter starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality. Associated Press

  • FILE - Winter the dolphin, rests on her mat at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Fla., July 26, 2007. The prosthetic-tailed dolphin, Winter, that starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality.

    FILE - Winter the dolphin, rests on her mat at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Fla., July 26, 2007. The prosthetic-tailed dolphin, Winter, that starred in the "Dolphin Tale" movies has died at a Florida aquarium despite life-saving efforts by animal care experts. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said the 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin died Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, while being treated for a gastrointestinal abnormality. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/13/2021 2:21 PM

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Florida's most famous dolphin Winter, beloved by fans around the world and star of the movie 'œDolphin Tale,' died of twisted intestines, according to necropsy results released by the aquarium Saturday.

The dolphin's intestines were in an area impossible to reach through surgery.

 

'œThere was nothing more the team could have done to save her life,' according to a statement from Clearwater Marine Aquarium, adding that the condition is found in stranded wild dolphins 'œas well as any living being with intestines.'

Winter, who died Thursday, inspired fans young and old after her tale was amputated when it became entangled in a crab trap rope, cutting off circulation. But the prosthetic tale and the dolphin's miraculous recovery offered hopes to many with illnesses and disabilities.

'œBecause of Winter's injury and the distortion it caused in her body, she was more prone to facing health complications since her rescue 16 years ago,' the aquarium said in a statement.

The staff said they worked around the clock in recent days to try to save 16-year-old Winter and minimize her pain. The facility was closed Friday, in part to mourn the loss of its most famous resident, but reopened Saturday.

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Fans - including autistic children and soldiers with missing limbs - made pilgrimages to visit Winter, star of the 2011 film 'œDolphin Tale," which chronicled its recovery.

Shortly after the dolphin arrived following her 2005 rescue, the aquarium partnered with Hanger Clinic, the nation's largest provider of prosthetic limbs, to create her tail. While Winter might have survived without one, using her side flippers to swim, that would have led to skeletal misalignment and other health issues.

But attaching the tail without damaging Winter's skin was problematic because its skin is so thin it can be cut with a fingernail. Eventually, they created a soft silicone-like sleeve, now marketed as WintersGel. The prosthetic tail then slid snugly over the sleeve.

Such sleeves are now used for human prosthetics and have all but eliminated skin sores, he said.

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