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Winter died from twisted intestines, necropsy reveals

Bill DeYoung

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Winter receiving an ultrasound earlier this week. Photo: Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Winter, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s star dolphin, died of an intestinal torsion – meaning she suffered from twisted intestines.

The preliminary results of Winter’s necropsy (animal autopsy) were released Saturday by CMA veterinarian Shelly Marquardt. The location of the torsion made it impossible to reach through surgery, the aquarium said in a press release. “There was nothing more the team could have done to save her life.”

Because of Winter’s prosthetic tail, the 16-year-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin – rescued and rehabilitated in 2005 – was prone to health issues.

Intestinal torsion is a condition found in all living beings with intestines, including stranded wild dolphins.

“We have found there is much to learn as a community about what causes this condition,” the release read, “and what experts found in yesterday’s necropsy means Winter will continue helping scientists and animal rescue teams worldwide better care for these amazing animals.”

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