Beloved 'Dolphin Tale’ star, Winter, dies at Florida aquarium

Lilah Christopher Finley born to parents played by Harry Connick Jr and Ashley Judd dies aged 18. Tributes from the film’s cast and crew flood in

Beloved 'Dolphin Tale’ star, Winter, dies at Florida aquarium

A formerly healthy dolphin that starred in the film “The Dolphin Tale” has died in a hospital in Tampa.

A University of South Florida health official said Winter died Sunday. Officials said staff at Clearwater Marine Aquarium found Winter swimming inside a pool unconscious. She was taken to a veterinary hospital, where she died.

Since her 2010 birth to parents played by Harry Connick Jr and Ashley Judd, Winter had been taken to Texas and diagnosed with a neurological disease that damaged her spinal cord. A few months ago Winter made a full recovery and was living at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Aquarium officials said they were sad about Winter’s death, but grateful for the months of love from so many and for all the work they did to give her a good life.

“She always had a smile, always knew exactly what was right, and always inspired us with her generosity, strength, and love,” Clearwater Marine Aquarium said in a statement.

The film is based on the true story of Winter’s rescue in 2001 from a Louisiana oil rig. Winter, who at the time was seven months old, had more than 20 injuries but she remained alive after surgeons tried most tricks possible to save her life.

Her rescue inspired a social media campaign of urging people to send Winter special Valentine’s Day gifts. One year, the movie’s director Charles Martin Smith sent her a stuffed panda bear.

“The Dolphin Tale” was based on the true story of Winter’s rescue in 2001 from a Louisiana oil rig.

Saving Winter became the theme of the film. Jasper, a young dolphin in captivity, saved Winter and promised to help her become a dolphin again if he could. When Jasper got sick, doctors decided to give him the chance to help Winter. She recovered and became a star for her recovery.

Jennifer Garner played Winter’s mother in the film.

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