Bao Xishun, the world's tallest man, reaches in to retrieve objects from the stomach of a sick dolphin at an aquarium in Fushun, China. Photograph: EyePress/AP
It's lucky they had the world's tallest man on call to lend a hand. Or rather, an extremely long arm.
In a late but very strong contender for the title of most curious animal story of 2006, two dolphins in a Chinese aquarium have been saved thanks to the personal attentions of Bao Xishun, all 7 ft 8.95 inches of him.
As the China Daily and others reported excitedly today, the drama began when the dolphins swallowed pieces of plastic from the edge of their aquarium pool in the north-eastern city of Fushun.
Attempts to remove the plastic using surgical instruments failed because the dolphins' stomachs contracted in response.
Now, thought the vets, if only our arms were long enough to reach down and pull the plastic out... Hang on!
Several telephone calls later and Mr Bao, certified last year as the world's tallest man, taking the title from previous holder, Radhouane Charbib of Tunisia, by a mere 2mm, was on his way, from his home in the province of Inner Mongolia.
The 55-year-old herdsmen was able to use an arm nearly three and a half foot long to reach into the dolphins' mouths and pull out the plastic with his hands, as handlers held their jaws open with towels.
"The two dolphins are in very good condition now," said a satisfied Chen Lujun, manager of the Royal Jidi Ocean World.
Mr Bao is somewhat of a celebrity in China, especially now he is officially the world's tallest man.
Last month, the Xinhua news agency reported, he was "causing a stir" in Brazil when he went there for a book signing of the 2007 Guinness Book of Records.
Does this tale open more career options for Mr Bao, other than being a professional giant? Surely, zoos worldwide could use his talents - what do they do now when an elephant needs his back scratched and there are no stepladders around?
Some good news for the day ^_^