Bridgestone races to the rescue

Some of the most heartwrenching stories are the stories where someone has volunteered their time and resources to help a person that otherwise would be affected by their illness for life. We are even more touched when we hear of people helping our helpless furry four-legged friends live a better life. But a mammal? Meet Fuji, the dolphin.

Fuji is a 34-year old dolphin that lost 75 percent of its tail through some mysterious disease. The veterinarians at Okinawa’s Churaumi Aquarium had to amputate Fujis fin. “Its physical mobility fell sharply after the amputation. It got tired easily,” said Masaya Kowami, a breeder at Okinawa’s Churaumi Aquarium.

Kowami-san called a friend of his at Bridgestone, Japan’s largest tire company. Bridgestone is known for Formula One racing and tires, not humanitarian feats for a no-legged animal. For all the right reasons, just because, science and engineering came together and created a world-first fin for a dolphin in captivity.

The fin was successfully fitted to Fuji in August 2004. “The most difficult part was creating the smooth texture of rubber so as not to scratch a dolphin’s skin,” said Bridgestone spokesman Shinichi Kobori. The fin is made of sponge rubber and carbon fiber.

Mr. Kowami and the aquarium crew worked with the 500-pound Ms. Fuji for five months before she felt comfortable with the fin.

The fin costs $100,000 and lots of love to produce. That’s not a high price to pay to see Ms. Fuji swish her tail in such delight.