The prosthetic-tailed dolphin that starred in the “Dolphin Tale” movies, Winter, has passed away at age 16 after battling a serious infection.
Officials said earlier this week that Winter could be fighting a gastrointestinal infection.
TMZ then reported Thursday that Winter had “passed away around 8 p.m. as veterinarians were prepping her for what they hoped would be a lifesaving surgery.”
The publication added that “Clearwater Marine Aquarium said a team of 15 vets and technicians were going to attempt to treat the gastrointestinal blockage, but they noticed vital signs declining.”
TMZ stated they were told “a necropsy will be done to determine cause of death, but at this point they believe it was heart failure.”
The sad news comes after Clearwater Marine Aquarium confirmed in a news release on Sunday that staff members noticed on Nov. 1 that Winter was not eating and was acting abnormally. Initial bloodwork showed the possible infection.
The aquarium’s care team monitored the 16-year-old dolphin’s condition around the clock, the news release said. She was in the aquarium’s centre pool, which does not have public underwater viewing. Visitors to the aquarium may have seen Winter from above the water on the third floor terrace.
“Her story of survival has inspired millions of people around the world, and she continues to show a strong, determined, and fighting spirit,” the news release said. “Our dedicated staff will continue to keep a close watch on her through this healing process and provide her with the highest quality of care.”
Winter was just two months old when her tail became entangled in a crab trap near Cape Canaveral, on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. “Dolphin Tale,” which was released in 2011, chronicled Winter’s recovery and her journey using a prosthetic tail. Three years later, “Dolphin Tale 2″ also starred Hope, another rescued Dolphin cared for by the Clearwater aquarium.
Aquarium officials said no other animals or marine life at the facility have shown signs of illness.