Chinese doctors pull out ball from dolphin's stomach

Chinese doctors successfully pulled out a ball from the stomach of a dolphin using a steel wire, sparing it from the pangs of surgery, a media report said today.

Jiang Bo, brought from Japan to China Underwater World in Nanjing, swallowed a ball which it was supposed to toss. A medical team removed the obstruction from the stomach of five-year-old mammal without surgery.

The doctors were reluctant to cut open the animal to reach the ball as they were concerned about how the wound would heal, state-run Peoples Daily reported. They instead managed to drill a hole in the ball and tried to pull it out after attaching it to a cord. But just when this seemed likely to succeed, the cord snapped.

Undaunted, the veterinary team tried again, this time using medical steel wire, and finally managed to yank the ball out, the report said. The procedure had been expected to take less than 30 minutes, but lasted three hours.

"We can say that Jiang Bo's life is no longer at risk," an official with the aquarium, surnamed Meng was quoted as saying by the daily. "But of course he will require long-term recovery treatment. We'll give him post-operation care and adjust his diet."

Jiang was returned to the aquarium yesterday. Before turning to doctors, the aquarium had made an appeal for people with long arms to reach down into the dolphin's stomach to retrieve the ball.

A basketball player tried to pull it out by thrusting his hand into its mouth, but he could not reach it. Yesterday, 2.26-metre tall Zhang Mengyong, the tallest man in the province, was on standby to make an attempt, should the doctors have failed.

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