Lead poisoning was diagnosed post-mortem in 34 simian primates, 11 parrots, and 3 Australian fruit bats at the National Zoological Park. Diagnoses were made by the finding of acid-fast intranuclear inclusion bodies in renal epithelia or hepatocytes and, in most cases, by finding excess lead in samples of liver. The estimated prevalence of lead intoxication among autopsied primates and parrots was 44% and 50% respectively. Leaded paint was found in many animal enclosures at this zoo and it was available to all the lead-poisoned animals in this study.
The finding of renal intranuclear inclusion bodies in animals at several zoos, scattered reports of lead intoxication of animals dwelling in various zoos, the occurrence of leaded paint in many zoos and the high incidence of lead poisoning at this zoo, indicated that lead poisoning of zoo animals is much more common than was previously thought.