Written by By Tatiana Siegel, CNN
Winter, the star of Disney’s “Dolphin Tale” and actress Alexandra Shipp, has died. She was 28.
The Associated Press first reported her death.
“Winter passed away peacefully and surrounded by her loving family,” South Florida Aquarium said in a statement. “We are grateful for the time we had with her and know she is happy and swimming among the dolphins.”
Winter is survived by her mother Winter, her father CJ and her siblings Crystal, Sage and Grace.
Winter is pictured with her husband James Hebert. South Florida Aquarium /Supplied by PLANET PHOTOS
In the film, Winter is one of the abused dolphins captured by humans and brought to the US Gulf Coast as part of a rescue program. Under the care of aquarium staff, the dolphin gradually learns to communicate with humans and ultimately stars in her own movie.
In 2015, the Discovery Channel premiered Winter’s life story of growing up at the aquarium, the dangers facing dolphins in captivity and her eventual commitment to a cause to protect and raise awareness of marine mammals.
The film also features Harry Connick Jr. as a therapist who helps the dolphin live a better life in captivity and Ashley Judd as Winter’s mom.
While Winter never appeared in the sequel, “Dolphin Tale 2,” she was still often included in press interviews and publicity for the first film.
The actress and her husband James Hebert used the proceeds from the franchise’s box office successes to help rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of dolphins and other marine mammals.
Winter, the star of “Dolphin Tale,”
When asked about what attracted her to Winter, Shipp told CNN in 2015 that she related to her character’s character because the film focused on a patient facing enormous odds.
“I think it’s because this is a character who is not the best,” Shipp said. “She’s not an idealized picture. She’s a little darker. And I relate to that.”
Winter’s voice was notably loud in the first film.
She has previously expressed a desire to return to acting.
Her father CJ said in 2015 that the duo was thinking about a return to the screen.
“We would do a sequel, if there’s a market for a sequel, if it were appropriate,” he said. “We definitely still have that itch to do something.”