by Art Levy
Updated 11 months ago
Winter has tripled attendance at the Clearwater Aquarium, which is now expanding. [Photo: Clearwater Marine Aquarium - Chris O'Meara]
Winter the Windfall
The baby dolphin was near death when she arrived at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium six years ago. Her tail, gashed and infected after being tangled in a crab trap line, had to be amputated, along with two adjacent vertebrae. The dolphin the aquarium named Winter should have died, but after a long rehabilitation, she recovered and became the first dolphin ever to be successfully fitted with a prosthetic tail.
Her story, thanks to some aggressive marketing by David Yates, the aquarium's CEO, went global. The wave of publicity more than tripled attendance at the aquarium, which subsequently started work last year on a $12-million expansion to double its space for visitors and triple the space for animals. Winter's story also spurred several children's books and 2011's Dolphin Tale, a feature film shot in Clearwater that has so far grossed more than $81 million internationally.
— Art Levy
Winter's story is told in the movie "Dolphin Tale," starring Morgan Freeman. [Photo: Warner Studios]