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A True Tale With A Happy Ending

Dr. David Kilpatrick and his colleagues study dolphins in an effort to help marine mammals.

David Kilpatrick remembers sitting at the screening of Warner Brothers’ Dolphin Tale feeling at once like a proud professional and a wide-eyed child. The seasoned veterinarian who owns Southside Veterinary Hospital in Vero Beach and consults with Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce is best known for his involvement in the rescue of the movie’s star, Winter, a bottlenose dolphin stranded in the Indian River Lagoon near Titusville, Fla. in 2005.

As the first veterinarian on the scene, where the approximately 6-month-old dolphin struggled to free her tail from a crab trap, David worked with his Harbor Branch colleagues and Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute staff and volunteers to find Winter a place to rehabilitate. At the time, no one knew how much circulation she had lost in her tail, which would eventually have to be amputated at her new home at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Winter’s tail-less tale would inspire a number one box office film in 2011, a sequel slated to premier next month and unprecedented advances in human prosthetics.

Read the entire article in the August 2014 issue