CLEARWATER (CBS Tampa) – Panama, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s oldest dolphin, has died.
The Tampa Bay Times reports she was 40 years old. In the wild, the average lifespan is about 25 years.
Trainers say her death followed five days of poor appetite and sluggish behavior. Panama had been under round-the-clock observation. Veterinarian Dr. Michael Walsh tells the paper he was examining the dolphin when she died.
Officials say Panama, a bottlenose dolphin nicknamed “Granny” both because of her age and her strong-willed nature, was the first friend and tankmate of Winter, the dolphin with a prosthetic tail whose story inspired the Dolphin Tale movie.
Trainer Robin Bates told the Tampa Bay Times she was already missing Panama’s smooches and the way she loved to snuggle in her trainers’ laps.