Once-tallest man's heroics as he used uniquely long arms to save dolphins' lives

By Vicki Newman
xi shun split image

A former holder of the tallest man living world record once put his long arms to good use by saving the lives of two distressed dolphins.

In a bizarre – but fruitful – turn of events, Bao Xishun was called in by a Chinese aquarium when surgical intervention proved useless.

It was in 2006 when two dolphins at Royal Jidi Ocean World in the city of Fusham fell ill after swallowing pieces of the plastic edge of their pool.

xi shun being measured

Staff had tried everything they could think of to extract the plastic from the dolphins’ stomachs to no avail.

They tried using surgical instruments to reach down through the animals’ mouths but their stomachs contracted in response, rendering extraction impossible.

But in a stroke of genius, someone came up with the idea to call in Bao, also known as Xi Shun, to save the day.

The Chinese-Mongolian herdsman had been named the world’s tallest man the year previous, with a height of 7 ft 8.95 in (2.361 m) and became quite the celebrity.

Xi, now 72, received what must have been a rather surprising call but was only too happy to help out.

He headed from his home in the province of Inner Mongolia to the aquarium, where he stuck his arm – measuring almost three and a half ft – into the dolphins’ mouths while handlers held their jaws open.

Xi was able to pull the plastic out of the dolphins’ stomachs and they made a full recovery.

“The two dolphins are in very good condition now,” said the aquarium’s manager, Chen Lujun, at the time.

Xi has previously said he was an average height up until the age of 16, when he grew rapidly until he became the tallest man in the world.

Xi Shun poses with a young fan named Thomas Mandry

Xi visited London when he was announced as the record holder and told us all about his life during an appearance on TV show Ultimate Guinness World Records.

He confirmed he was “pretty normal” as a youngster but continued to “grow taller and taller” once he was out of his teens.

He also joked about the advantage his height gave him when he played basketball, cheekily saying: “I always won.”

Xi Shun with GWR's Craig Glenday

His record stood until 2009 when it transferred to Sultan Kösen (Türkiye), who measured at 8 ft 1 in (246.5 cm).

Sultan still holds the record and has grown even taller – now standing at 8 ft 2.8 in (251 cm).

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