Florida’s most famous dolphin, Winter, beloved by fans around the world and star of the movie Dolphin Tale, died of twisted intestines, according to necropsy results released by an aquarium on Saturday.
The dolphin’s intestines were in an area impossible to reach through surgery.
“There was nothing more the team could have done to save her life,” a statement from Clearwater Marine Aquarium said, adding that the condition is found in stranded wild dolphins “as well as any living being with intestines”.
Winter, who died on Thursday, inspired fans young and old after her tail was amputated when it became entangled in a crab trap rope, cutting off circulation.
A prosthetic tail and a miraculous recovery offered hope to many with illnesses and disabilities.
“Because 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.
Staff said they had worked around the clock in recent days to try to save 16-year-old Winter and minimize her pain. The facility was closed on Friday, in part to mourn the loss of its most famous resident, but it reopened on Saturday.
Fans, including autistic children and soldiers with missing limbs, made pilgrimages to visit Winter, star of the 2011 film Dolphin Tale, which chronicled her 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.
Attaching the tail without damaging Winter’s skin was problematic because dolphin skin is so thin it can be cut with a fingernail. Eventually, engineers created a soft silicone-like sleeve, now marketed as WintersGel, over which the prosthetic tail slid snugly.
Such sleeves are now used for human prosthetics, to eliminate skin sores.
Original posted at www.theguardian.com