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Blood Lead Levels in Captive Giant Pandas

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Fifteen giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) from the Chinese Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) in Bifengxia, Sichuan, China were analyzed for blood lead concentrations (Pb-B) during the 2017 breeding season. Thirteen of the 15 bears showed Pb-B below the method detection limit (MDL) of 3.3 µg/dL. The two remaining bears, although above the MDL, contained very low concentrations of lead of 3.9 and 4.5 µg/dL. All 15 giant pandas in this analysis had Pb-B concentrations that were within normal background concentrations for mammals in uncontaminated environments. For a threatened species, whose native country is plagued by reports of extremely high air pollution, our findings suggest that giant pandas at the CCRCGP are not absorbing lead at concentrations that would adversely affect their health.

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We thank Magellan Diagnostics for providing information and for donating all testing supplies and equipment. We would like to thank the staff at the CCRCGP who collected all the samples for us. PDXWildlife, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, conducting research on giant pandas, provided interns to complete this study. As such, we owe a great deal of gratitude to Stephanie Crider who analyzed these samples. A special thank you goes to each of the reviewers for selflessly donating their time.

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Correspondence to Nathan J. P. Wintle.

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Wintle, N.J.P., Martin-Wintle, M.S., Zhou, X. et al. Blood Lead Levels in Captive Giant Pandas. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 100, 59–63 (2018).

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