Florida Aquarium closes for 1 day due to illness of Dolphin Tales star

CLEARWATER, Florida (AP) – The Florida Aquarium is temporarily shutting down to treat its permanent prosthetic-tailed dolphin that appeared in the films A Tale of Dolphins. The famous marine mammal is now in critical condition due to suspected infection.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said in a statement that it will close its doors on Friday “to create the best possible conditions” for medical staff to treat Winter, a 16-year-old female bottlenose dolphin suffering from a gastrointestinal infection.

“CMA animal care professionals consult with leading animal care professionals and veterinarians in the country and are exploring all possible options for saving Winter’s life,” the aquarium said in a statement.

The aquarium is scheduled to open on Saturday.

It was two months in winter when her tail became entangled in a crab trap near Cape Canaveral, forcing her to be amputated. 2011’s Tale of Dolphins follows Winter’s recovery and unprecedented and lengthy attempts to equip her with a prosthetic tail.

The film, starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Chris Kristofferson and Morgan Freeman, was filmed at the Clearwater Aquarium and around Tampa Bay. This has made the non-commercial aquarium, first opened in 1972 on the site of a former water treatment plant, on the international map.

Officials say Winter’s story has been a source of inspiration for people with disabilities around the world, and since Winter’s illness became known, the aquarium has received thousands of messages of support.

“Many are inspired by her resilience, and this amazing response reminds us of how deeply she has influenced millions of people, including many on their own health journey,” the aquarium said in a statement.

Three years later, a sequel to A Dolphin Story 2 was released, starring Winter and Hope, another rescued dolphin that is being cared for by the Clearwater Aquarium.

Bottlenose dolphins can live up to 60 years of age and are considered one of the smartest of all animal species.

Winter and Nadezhda are by far the most famous inhabitants of the Clearwater Aquarium, which also has programs to rescue sea turtles and manatees.

A $ 80 million expansion was recently completed, including a new 1.5 million gallon (56 million liters) dolphinarium to deal with the crowd that has attacked the aquarium since Tale of Dolphins was released ten years ago.

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