- The Washington Times - Friday, December 15, 2006

3:26 p.m.

The clock was ticking.

The dolphins had lost their appetite. They were depressed.

Veterinarians at an aquarium in northeastern China had tried to remove harmful shreds of plastic from the mammals’ stomachs, but to no avail.

The frantic doctors did the only thing they could do: They called the world’s tallest man and asked him to stick his hand down their throats.

Bao Xishun, a 7-foot-9 herdsman from Inner Mongolia, did not disappoint. As Superman would employ his cosmic strength to lift a gigantic boulder, Mr. Xishun — who was certified last year by Guinness World Records as the tallest living man — put his 42-inch-long arms in the afflicted creatures’ mouths and delivered them from a certain fate.

“The two dolphins are in very good condition now,” said Chen Lujun, manager of Royal Jidi Ocean World, to Associated Press yesterday.

After the dolphins fell ill from ingesting the plastic at their pool, doctors attempted to use surgical instruments to remove the plastic. The dolphins’ stomachs contracted in response, rendering the attempts unsuccessful.

Photographs of the event show Mr. Xishun grimacing as he inserts an arm into one of the dolphin’s mouths while its jaws are held back with towels to prevent him from being bitten.

“The part I couldn’t understand is if [the dolphin’s stomach] is rejecting sterile instruments, then why is it accepting a 42-inch human arm?” said Jeffrey Douglas, spokesman for Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Va.

A Chinese doctor told the state news agency that small pieces of plastic remained in the dolphins’ stomachs, but he said the animals will be able to digest them and are expected to recover.

Locally, the National Aquarium in Baltimore takes several precautions to avoid such situations, spokeswoman Molly Foyle said.

“They are not allowed to have items that would disintegrate or could be pulled apart,” Ms. Foyle said of the aquarium’s eight resident Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

Accidental ingestions and entanglements are the most common problems among the animals the aquarium rescues, she added.

Mr. Xishun, 54, was of normal height until the age of 15, at which point, he experienced a massive growth spurt. He is thought to be a descendant of 12th- and 13th-century Mongol military leader Genghis Khan, according to China Daily.

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