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Winter the dolphin is in critical condition at Clearwater aquarium

The injured dolphin who was the basis for the hit movie “Dolphin Tale” has seen her infections intensify. The Clearwater aquarium will close Friday to care for her.
Winter, the stranded dolphin who was the star of the hit movie "Dolphin Tale," has been sick. Clearwater Marine Aquarium suspects she is fighting a gastrointestinal infection.
Winter, the stranded dolphin who was the star of the hit movie "Dolphin Tale," has been sick. Clearwater Marine Aquarium suspects she is fighting a gastrointestinal infection. [ Times (2010) ]
Published Nov. 11
Updated Nov. 12
Related: UPDATE: Winter the dolphin died at Clearwater aquarium on Thursday evening

Winter, the injured dolphin who was the star of the hit movie Dolphin Tale, has been ill and under observation at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where they say she is now in critical condition.

In an update issued Wednesday night, the aquarium’s animal care experts said that despite treatment for a suspected gastrointestinal infection, her illness has intensified — making Winter’s condition critical.

The organization said it was consulting with top animal care experts and veterinary specialists in the country and are “exploring all possible options to save Winter’s life.”

Related: Winter the dolphin has received more than 1,400 get-well messages

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium said it will temporarily close to the public Friday “to create the best possible environment for her medical team.” It plans to reopen at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“We thank everyone for the incredible outpouring of love and support you have shown Winter since her rescue in 2005 and especially these last few days,” the organization said in a news release. “Many are inspired by her resiliency and this amazing response reminds us of how deeply she has affected millions, including so many on their own health journey.”

The Clearwater aquarium has cared for Winter since she was rescued on Dec. 10, 2005, in Mosquito Lagoon near Cape Canaveral on Florida’s east coast. At just 2 months old, Winter’s tail became entangled in a crab trap. She ultimately lost the tail, but she became famous for the prosthetic with which she was fitted.

Winter’s story was told in the 2011 movie Dolphin Tale, starring Harry Connick Jr. and Morgan Freeman. A second movie, Dolphin Tale 2, was released three years later and also featured Winter and the story of Hope, another rescued dolphin at the Clearwater aquarium.

The story of Winter's recovery was turned into the movie "Dolphin Tale," which was filmed at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Nathan Gamble, left, and Harry Connick Jr., are shown here in a scene with Winter from the 2011 movie.
The story of Winter's recovery was turned into the movie "Dolphin Tale," which was filmed at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Nathan Gamble, left, and Harry Connick Jr., are shown here in a scene with Winter from the 2011 movie. [ JON FARMER | Warner Bros. ]

Since the news of her illness became public, the aquarium has been flooded with messages and get-well wishes on its Facebook page and in cards to the facility. The outpouring of comments from far and wide topped more than 2,000 in the days after the news broke.