06:41 AM EDT 03/19/2015
Originally posted 09/22/2011 05:00PM
When Harry Connick Jr. first read the script for a movie about a dolphin who loses her tail but survives with the help of human friends and an inspirational will to live, he thought it had come entirely from someone's imagination.
"I was blown away to find out the story was real," Connick tells PEOPLE.
Not only was the story real, but the filmmakers also brought in the real-life dolphin, named Winter, to play herself in the movie. "I was just so thrilled to know that I'd be able to work with her," he says. "It was an incredible experience."
Originally posted 09/19/2011 03:15PM
Winter the dolphin may have lost her tail, but she's since gained the ability to inspire.
In 2005, the 3-month-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin was found entangled in a crab trap off the Florida coast. The staff at Clearwater Marine Aquarium nursed the dolphin, named Winter, around the clock as she fought off a life-threatening infection that cost the mammal her tail. But losing the essential appendage put her in danger again – until clinician Dan Strezmpka came up with a unique solution and created a silicone prosthetic for Winter.
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