Winter is the rescue dolphin who starred in the 2009 film Dolphin Tale and the documentary film, “Journey to Freedom.” In December of last year, several crew members aboard the research boat, the Nicola’s Dolphin Quest, attempted to rescue Winter from what they thought was a Coast Guard cutter in the waters off Palmetto Bay in Sarasota, Florida. But in actuality the boat was serving as part of the research vessel’s part in a scientific research study.
Back on shore the Mystic Aquarium officials learned of Winter’s fate and decided that due to her advanced age and the fact that Winter is a highly endangered species, she needed to be put down. The film studio, Dolphin Tale II, and Winter’s family, had raised funds for a possible rehabilitation that would allow her to be returned to the wild, but it was deemed unwise. “Her legal prognosis did not appear good because she was reaching her reproductive years and was not within the legal captivity age for re-importation into the wild,” according to the official dolphin review by Mystic Aquarium. “After many long discussions with a veterinary clinician and review of her health, she was humanely euthanized at 12 years of age.”
Winter’s daughter, Alexandra Winter, is not the only one of Winter’s four offspring that have died recently. Her other three youngsters died some years ago of natural causes, but what many fans were most grieving about was Winter’s death since she was in a group of dolphins and sea turtles that are protected from anthropomorphization and are considered magical creatures by SeaWorld. However, they are also legally protected creatures and it was her death that had caused the most outrage online.
WHY IS A DOLPHIN A MAGICAL ANIMAL? WHY IS THAT A FEW OF HER THREE KIDS HAVE DIED? WHY DO I REMEMBER HER SNACKING ON BALDFISH? WHY DOES SHE HAVE BACON ON HER TEETH? WHY DO PEOPLE LAUGH AT THAT? WHY IS THAT FUNNY? It’s ridiculous. The whole family is now crying http://t.co/ttOL4ztw5Q — Sylvester (@miranda_tony) October 30, 2015
Winter’s death and many fans are speculating that the dolphin may have been struck by a boat propeller. It is a very, very rare occurrence in these waters to get a boat tip. Nevertheless there was an outpouring of emotions from viewers and fans alike.
it’s a travesty how brutal humans can be to one another. to lose their caretaker is not the worst thing that could happen to a dolphin or sea turtle.#RIPWinter — wale (@Wale) October 31, 2015
Admittedly, I used to think having a toy dolphin would be a cute Christmas gift, now I think it should have a beakedat around her neck that a dolphin can fit through. #RIPWinter #sealife — Melissa Voorhees (@murderspins) October 31, 2015
“it’s tragic how animals are treated on TV. #Winter and millions of other dolphins need sanctuary not a mimed fake adventure,” one viewer tweeted. The loss of Winter was one of many that have left people questioning the actions of marine life shows such as the Atlantis in recent years, some even questioning what can be done to prevent these types of deaths. “There was plenty of public concern after the deaths of Free Willy and Octopus, but in these sad times it seems like SeaWorld can do no wrong. Winter’s death is proof of the resort’s and captive marine mammal institutions refusal to reassess their operations,” the Humane Society of the United States’ deputy director, Lisa Lange, said in a statement.