Dolphin With Prosthetic Tail Gets Ready For Waves Of Publicity
Tourists who visit Hollywood are often disappointed when they discover that the celebrities they love aren't exactly walking up and down the street.
That's not the case in Clearwater Beach, Fla., where visitors are guaranteed to see at least one celebrity: Winter the dolphin, the star and subject of the upcoming movie, "Dolphin Tale," which stars Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr.
Winter, who turns six in October, lost her tail at three months old when she was caught in a blue crab trap off the coast of Florida and the blood supply to her tail was cut off by the rope.
Doctors at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where she was taken after her injuries, thought she might die, but, amazingly, she lived.
Initially, it was thought she'd have to learn to swim without a tail, which doctors feared could cause scoliosis, as that would require her to move her back side-to-side instead of the normal up-and-down method.
"Without a tail, she swims side-to-side and that overproduces some muscles while underusing others," Kelly Martin, one of Winter's five trainers told HuffPost Weird News.
However, Kevin Carroll, vice president of prosthetics at Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, who had previously designed prosthetics for dogs, an ostrich and a duck, volunteered to help Winter by designing a special tail prosthetic for her.
This was more than five years ago, and since then, Winter's fame has spread far and wide and has helped the aquarium's attendance.
"Five years ago, we had 7,000 guests in the month of July," said Krista Rosado, director of marketing at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. "We had 35,000 visitors this July."
Rosado said she expects even more people will visit after "Dolphin Tale" opens nationally Sept. 23. The aquarium is trying to piggyback on the waves of publicity generated by the release by letting visitors know they can see a real-life star of a Hollywood movie seven days a week.
And, in the off-chance Winter is unable to perform, Rosado said fans can see the next best thing: her prosthetic tail.
"Winter wears her tail about an hour a day, but people walk around it so you can get up close to it," she told HuffPost Weird News. "There are about 15 versions of it."
The aquarium will also be the site of a special premiere showing on Sept. 21 that will possibly reunite Winter with some of her human castmates.
"We don't know who is going to show," Rosado admitted. "We know Ashley Judd probably won't be there as she's in Prague."
Rosado said she expects the film will impact the aquarium's bottom line, but admits making it affected Winter in other ways.
"Although she is a dolphin who has spent the majority of her life with humans, we had to acclimate her to the filmmaking process by holding up fake cameras around her in the pool starting months before [shooting began]," Rosado said. "Otherwise, her face would have been right up in the camera lens just out of curiosity."
Winter has a chance to make a big splash as a film star in the movie, but Martin, who helps train her, doesn't think success will go to her head.
"So far, she hasn't gotten too big for her britches," Martin told HuffPost Weird News.
But while Martin insists that Winter doesn't engage in the selfish antics of other young starlets, she admits that Winter can have her moods.
"We do watch carefully to see how she's feeling," Martin said. "For instance, if she is not showing up to the platform, we know she's not in the mood to perform."
It goes both ways, though.
Martin started working with Winter right after filming finished and said they had to go through a getting-to-know-you period.
"It's important to establish space for both of us," Martin said. "If she is going to come up on the platform, we both have to feel safe and comfortable."
Since "Dolphin Tale" previews have run before practically every family film for the last six months, there's a buzz attached to the film. Martin said she is aware that Winter's growing popularity will have an effect on her and the aquarium.
"Things are definitely going to change," she said. "But we're excited about this. This will allow people to learn how intelligent dolphins are and also let them know about our effect on them."
Sperm-sniffing Police Dog
Police Dog Handler B-G Carlson with the sperm-sniffing dog Rapport's Opus, which collected evidence against a 23-year-old man who was charged with a rape. Credit: <a href="http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article13335666.ab" target="_hplink">Aftonbladet</a>
Guru, the Hairless Chimp
Looking almost like a bronze statue of a person, Guru the hairless chimpanzee eats in his enclosure at India's Mysore Zoo. Guru lost all his hair to alopecia, a condition that can also affect humans.
This image provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department shows an alligator Thursday June 6, 2013 in Lancaster, Calif. Part of the "Zoo to You" program in Paso Robles that introduces kids to animals, the alligator was being held by two females near a van after the animal urinated inside the van and the females had stopped to clean the the van. (AP Photo/ Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)
Miwa, a baby monkey, rides a young boar named Uribo in the Fukuchiyama City Zoo, in Kyoto, Japan, on Oct. 19. Both have been sheltered by the zoo since June after losing their mothers
Westies Doing Watersports
These hilarious pictures of Westie dogs doing water sports should cheer anyone up, whatever the weather. They are a newly-launched theme for handy iPhone app Weather Puppy, a weather app that comes free but lets you buy themes such as these side-splitting images of West Highland White Terrier. British publishers Maverick Arts are behind the wacky pictures and have used amazing image-manipulation skills to make it seem as if the dogs are indulging in adrenalin sports. Maverick MD Steve Bicknell explains: "We are obsessed with the weather here in the UK and I think our pictures of the Westies should cheer people up weather they are at a sunny beach or hiding from the rain."
Boy Finds Whale Vomit Worth $63,000
Charlie Naysmith, 8, found this hunk while walking on a beach in Great Britain. He thought it was a rock, but it turned out to be a piece of whale vomit worth $63,000.
Insect with Singing Penis
A small water boatman of the species <em>Micronecta scholtzi </em> is seen in this photo from the University of Strathclyde Glasgow. The insect has been found to use its penis to perform a very loud mating call. Scientists say the "singing penis" -- relative to its body size -- is the loudest animal on Earth.
Rebecca Reichart, Leroy Nunez, Nicholas Coutu, Claudia Grant, Kenneth Krysko
In an Aug. 10, 2012 photo provided by the University of Florida, Florida Museum of Natural History researchers, from left, Rebecca Reichart, Leroy Nunez, Nicholas Coutu, Claudia Grant and Kenneth Krysko examine the internal anatomy of the largest Burmese python found in Florida to date, on the University of Florida campus. The 17-foot-7-inch snake weighed 164 pounds and carried 87 eggs in its oviducts, a state record. Following scientific investigation, the snake will be mounted for exhibition at the museum for about five years, and then returned for exhibition at Everglades National Park. (AP Photo/University of Florida, Kristen Grace)
Mass For Animals -- Oct. 2011
Gil Florini, of Saint-Pierre-d'Arene's church, blesses donkeys with holy water after a mass dedicated to animals on Oct. 9, 2011, in the southeastern French city of Nice.
Police have released a photo of the culprit in a series of flag thefts from the graves of soldiers at the Cedar Park Cemetery in Hudson, NY. As you can see by the photo, it looks like they caught the thief in the act: This woodchuck right here in the middle of the screen.
At two weeks old, Beyonce, a Dachsund mix born at a Northern California animal shelter, is just under four inches long and is in the running for the title of World's Smallest Dog. Here she is pictured resting on an iPhone.
Kitler, a kitten small enough to fit in a cup with a remarkable resemblance to Hitler is looking for a home after being found abandoned at the side of a busy road. An animal charity is struggling to find a loving home for an abandoned kitten - because it looks like HITLER. The six-week-old moggie was found abandoned on her own by the side of a busy main road by a member of the public. She was handed in to Wood Green animal shelter in Godmanchester, Cambs., where staff nicknamed her 'Kitler' because of her distinctive black moustache. Nobody came forward to say they were Kitler's owner so the centre put her up for rehoming, but she is yet to find a loving family because of her unusual markings.
Elephant Polo -- Sept. 2011
Elephant polo players from the Spice girls team (left) and the British Airways British Army team battle it out for 5th place during the final day at the King's Cup Elephant polo tournament Sept. 11, 2011, in Hua Hin, Thailand.This year marked the 10th edition of the polo tournament with 12 international teams participating for the unusual annual charity sports event.
John Huntington poses with one of his chickens on a lead in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 15, 2011. Mr Hungtington's 'City Chicks' are chickens for those living in an urban enviroment, complete with small walking leads and harnesses and elasticised nappies. 'City Chicks' will be showcased at Sydney's ABC Gardening Australia Expo.
An angler is celebrating after breaking the record for catching the world's biggest ever cod. The mighty fish weighed in at 103lbs, smashing the previous and long-held world record by nearly 5lbs. And the biggest specimen of Britain's favourite eating fish to be pulled out of the water by rod and line was caught by a German. Michael Eisele was on a fishing trip to Norway - the so-called El Dorado of cod fishing - when he snared the whopper.
Seal Pup Survivor
This little seal was nearly strangled to death when it got tangled up in a discarded G-string thong near the Lovers Leap Cliffs of New Zealand. Luckily, a passerby saw the panicked pup, and conservation workers were able to free the animal from the offending garment.
The U.S. attorneys office sued Heritage Auctions of Texas in June to force it to return a Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton to the Mongolian government.
This March 8, 2012 photo shows Nicole Andree feeding a hamburger to her dog, Prada, a 4-year-old pit bull mix, at an animal control facility in Nashville, Tenn. Andree is fighting a lengthy legal battle to save her dog's life after the animal was ordered euthanized for attacking other dogs.
Kitten Found In Car Engine
After driving about 85 miles to Santa Cruz, Calif., a man discovered that this runaway kitten had been inside his car's engine in March 2012.
Monkey Photographs Self
One of the photos that the monkey took with Davids camera. These are the chimp-ly marvellous images captured by a cheeky monkey after turning the tables on a photographer who left his camera unmanned. The inquisitive scamp playfully went to investigate the equipment before becoming fascinated with his own reflection in the lens. And it wasnt long before the crested black macaque hijacked the camera and started snapping away sending award-winning photographer David Slater bananas. David, from Coleford, Gloucestershire, was on a trip to a small national park north of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi when he met the incredibly friendly bunch.
Is it Elvis... or Bert from "Sesame Street"? This stink bug photographed in Singapore seems to be a fan of one of them -- but it's not clear which one.
World's Longest Snake In Captivity
Medusa, a 25-foot, two-inch Reticulated Python owned by Full Moon Productions in Kansas City, Missouri is the Longest Snake Ever in Captivity.
Space Alien Really A Baboon
This close-up of the head of the animal shown in the previous slide, was, according to a local veterinarian, a baby baboon photographed by park ranger Llewellyn Dixon. The animal was found near the South African resort town of Nature's Valley.
Britain's Saddest Puppy
Six-month-old puppy Princess has such delicate skin she can't go outside. While other dogs run free at Britain's Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, Princess must gaze through the window. But this canine, otherwise known as Britain's Saddest Puppy, has become a minor celebrity in the media.
Animals In The News
Tha Sophat, a 20-month-old Cambodian boy, suckles from a cow in Koak Roka village, Siem Reap province, Cambodia, Friday, Sept. 9, 2011. Tha Sophat started suckling the cow in July after he saw a calf do the same since his parents moved to Thailand in search of work, said his grandfather UmOeung.
World's Smallest Cow
Swallow, an 11-year-old sheep-sized cow from the West Yorkshire region of England, is one of the stars of the 2011 edition of "Guinness World Records." This 33-inch-high Dexter is the world's smallest cow.
Skateboarding With Tillman
Tillman the skateboarding dog is always learning new tricks. The famed canine skater -- who is also an acclaimed surfer and snowboarder -- made an appearance at Madame Tussauds on the Las Vegas Strip on Sept. 16.
Tori, the Smoking Orangutan
Tori, a 15-year-old orangutan, holds a cigarette stub between her fingers inside her cage at Satwa Taru Jurug zoo in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia, Friday, July 6, 2012. Zookeepers said they plan to move Tori, who learned to smoke about a decade ago by imitating people, away from visitors who regularly throw lit cigarettes into her cage so they can watch and photograph her puffing away and exhaling smoke. (AP Photo)
Ranger Shoots Deers Whose Antlers Are Stuck
It was a shot in the dark, but an Illinois police officer manage to separate two whitetail deer whose antlers were tangled together -- by shooting them apart.
This is the moment two angry squirrels went head-to-head in a spectacular fight over food. The two red squirrels showed the lengths they will go to in order to protect their precious dinner as they can be seen charging at one another and scrapping in the sand as they viciously fought over a watermelon. One of the squirrels was enjoying his fruity snack in peace when he was approached by a brazen squirrel hoping to steal a bite of his meal.
Camel in the Family
Nathan Anderson-Dixon, his wife Charlotte, their 18-month-old son Reuben, Joe the camel and a reindeer.
Space Alien Is A Baboon
This is a close-up of the previous slide, which turned out to be a baby baboon found in South Africa on July 10, 2013.
This photo released by the New England Aquarium, in Boston Tuesday, July 24, 2012, shows a 21-pound lobster caught July 14 off Cape Cod, and donated to the aquarium where it will be displayed after a 30-quarantine period.
Parrot on Roller Skates
A parrot trained by Italian trainer Anthonie Zattu performs wearing a pair of rollerskates during the International Festival of Cirkus Art on Feb. 20, 2011, in Prague.
In art, there's primitivism and there's primate-vism. Meet Jimmy, a 26-year-old chimpanzee who can paint. Pictured while creating a painting on cardboard on Sept. 20 at a zoo in Niteroi, Brazil, the monkey's art works have caught the attention of zoological experts who plan a special exhibit for the chimp.
Camel in the Family
t's not every day you can say that a camel has shared your breakfast - unless you're Nathan and Charlotte Anderson-Dixon. Each morning they and their 18-month-son Reuben are joined by pet camel Joe, who pokes his head through their conservatory window to help himself to something to eat. The three-year-old happily munches eats bread, fruit and cereal plucked from the table at the family's detached country farmhouse. Joe, who measures 17.5 hands, loves bananas on toast but hates toast with cheese or Marmite. He lives with four other camels but is the only one to share breakfast with his owners. The others have to eat hay, barley, straw and corn mix in their stable in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Nathan, 32, has owned Joe for two years and uses him for camel racing.
Baby Raccoon Stuck In Sewer
A baby raccoon that got stuck head-first in a sewer grate is free thanks to the quick and slippery work of some city workers in suburban Detroit. A release from Dearborn Heights says the crew took the raccoon to the Public Works yard for a "much-needed shower" before letting it go in the woods.
World's Longest Cat
Robin Henderson stretches her cat, Stewie, outside of her home in Reno, Nev. Stewie, a 5-year-old Maine Coon, has been accepted by Guinness World Records as the world's longest cat at 48.5 inches long. Unfortunately, Stewie passed away in February, 2013. He was 8.
Taxidermied Squirrel -- Dec. 2011
Rick Nadeau has saved up quite a nut by creating taxidermied squirrels that he puts in unusual outfits. He sells his works starting at $65 all the way up to $200.
Kayaker Snags Shark -- Sept. 2011
This is the jaw-dropping moment a canoeist landed a 6-foot shark after it dragged him through the water for 10 minutes. Brave Rupert Kirkwood, 51, had paddled a mile off the United Kingdom's Devon coast when he suddenly felt a snag on his line. The 70-pound beast nearly pulled him overboard, before pulling his 16-foot canoe through the water as he desperately clung on. After 10 minutes of wrestling with the beast, he eventually hauled the massive fish on board.
Dogs Behind The Wheel
The New Zealand SPCA taught dogs to drive as part of a campaign meant to demonstrate the intelligence or rescue dogs and boost adoption rates. Yes, these dogs are actually driving cars. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/05/dogs-driving-cars-new-zealand-spca_n_2244476.html" target="_hplink">Read the whole story here.</a>
Li Zhiwei, a forestry worker in China, discovered this 19-inch earthworm in a gutter near his house. He plans to raise it as a pet.
Trouble, The Millionaire Dog
Hotel magnate Leona Helmsley left $12 million for her dog Trouble when she died in 2007, but a judge reduced the bequest to $2 million.
Of course she's unhappy. Who likes getting weighed right after the holidays? This is Agathe, a cane toad, and she's sitting on a toy scale during an annual animal inventory at the Hanover Zoo in Germany on Jan. 5. Agathe weighs a slight hop over 4 pounds.
This is a lamb in China that looks just like a dog. Farmers in Fugu County, in western China's Shaanxi Province, were left open-mouthed when they saw the young animal running around their field. The lamb has a mouth, nose, paws and tail which look very similar to a dog's features - but still has a white woolly coat.
Elephant with Prosthetic Leg
Motala, age 50, rests in the afternoon sun with the new prosthetic made for her at the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) elephant hospital in the Mae Yao National Reserve August 29, 2011 Lampang,Thailand. Motala lost a foot many years back after stepping on a land mine and now is on her third prosthetic, as they need to be changed according to the weight of the elephant. The world's first elephant hospital assists in medical care and helps to promote a better understanding of the elephant's physiology, important in treating them for illness. For generations elephants have been a part of the Thai culture, although today the Thai elephant mostly is domesticated animal, since Thailand now has few working elephants. Many are used in the tourism sector at special elephant parks or zoos, where they perform in shows. In some cases Thailand is still deals with roaming elephants on the city streets, usually after the mahout, an elephant driver, becomes unemployed, which often causes the elephant serious stress.
Gorilla With Toothache
Two Bay Area dentists made a house call at the San Francisco Zoo on Monday, July 11, to help out a gorilla with a toothache. Dentist Dan Mairani (left) and endodontist Steve Holifield, who usually perform procedures on human patients, worked for three hours on Oscar Jonesy (O.J.), a 30-year-old male western lowland gorilla that developed an abscessed canine tooth. Thanks to this dental team, the abscess was successfully treated and the tooth was saved!
Crocodile in Belgium -- Dec. 2011
A man holds a crocodile with tape around its mouth, as workers from the Natuurhulpcentrum, a wildlife rehabilitation center, collect several crocodiles at a villa in Lapscheure, near the Dutch border, on Dec. 22, 2011. Police discovered eleven Nile crocodiles and one alligator (all alive) in a villa rented by a German man, Rolf D., during an investigation into financial fraud.
This Little PIggie Has Two Snouts
This tiny porker has an excuse for making a pig of himself at mealtimes. He really does have two mouths to feed. The bizarre two-month-old youngster -- part of a litter born on a farm in northern China -- can use both his mouths to eat and appears otherwise normal, say his owners.
Lucy: World's Smallest Working Dog -- Nov. 2011
Lucy, a mini Yorkshire terrier from Absecon, New Jersey, is now in the Guinness Book of World Records. Weighing just 2 1/2 pounds, Lucy was named the world's smallest working dog last week, bumping out a 6.6-pound police dog in Japan.