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The Dolphin From Dolphin Tale Is In Critical Condition

Boy and dolphin in Dolphin Tale
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Get ready folks because this may the most heartbreaking story you read today. I’m maybe exaggerating a little, but some people have built some pretty strong emotional bonds with animals in movies. So there are probably a lot of people who will be distraught to learn that Winter, the dolphin from the film Dolphin Tale, is in critical condition right now.

Dolphin Tale was both a book and a film which told the story of a real life dolphin named Winter, who lost her tail due to injuries sustained after getting stuck in a crab trap. Winter was eventually fitted with a prosthetic tail. The movie version of the story was a smashing success. It was actually number one at the domestic box office on its opening weekend in 2011, even if its 3D effects weren’t that great. It co-starred Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, and Morgan Freeman and it grossed nearly $100 million at the global box office on a budget less than half of that. It even spawned a sequel, though that one was a fictional story about a different dolphin. Both movies can currently be found on HBO Max if you're interested. 

Winter has spent her life, since being rescued in 2005, at the The Clearwater Marine Aquarium. But now things have taken a turn for the worse as TMZ reports that what her caretakers believed was a gastrointestinal infection is getting much worse and the dolphin is now in critical condition.

A medical team has been brought in to care for Winter, and the aquarium is being closed until at least Saturday to give them the best possible environment in which to work. That’s maybe not the best sign. If Winter is in such a bad state that having other people around could be a problem, this seems really serious.

Winter is only about 16-years-old and dolphins in captivity can live until around 30, so this isn’t a case where an animal is just getting very sick because they’re getting old. Winter should have another decade or more in front of her, so this is clearly a serious infection if there is real concern for her life.

This is a dolphin who has already been through a lot. She was only two months old when she was rescued originally, and has had to live her life using an artificial tail. She hasn’t known much in life outside of the aquarium she calls home.

Hopefully Winter will be able to pull through and recover from this infection. She certainly has a lot of people who care for her, both within the aquarium's staff and its visitors. She’s a movie star after all, and her story is known to millions thanks to the movie. And hey, if she does pull through, maybe there’s another movie in her future.

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.