A captive bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in a dolphinarium in Tel Aviv, Israel, had signs of anorexia, weight loss and a reluctance to train over a 4-week period in June 1995 and died shortly thereafter. On necropsy, it had an enlarged, yellow discolored liver, and about 55 air gun pellets in the second stomach. The pellets were composed of 40% lead. Samples of liver and kidney cortex contained 3.6 and 4.2 μg/g lead, respectively. There was hemosiderosis in the liver and kidneys, status spongiosus in the brain, and vacuolization in the optic nerve; acid-fast intranuclear inclusion bodies were seen in the kidneys. We propose that chronic lead toxicosis had been induced after the gradual dissolution of the lead-based pellets in the acid environment of the stomach.
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