China's milk crisis apparently has spread to animals, with a lion cub, two baby orangutans and two adult gorillas developing kidney stones at zoos in China.
All were fed powder made by the Sanlu Group Co., which is at the center of the tainted milk crisis. The industrial chemical melamine has been found in a growing range of Chinese-made dairy products, and it has been blamed for sickening 53,000 infants in China and killing four.
The orangutans and lion cub had been nursed with milk powder for more than a year, said Zhang Xu, a veterinarian with the Hangzhou Zhangxu Animal Hospital.
The three baby animals located at the Hangzhou Safari Park near Shanghai were found with kidney stones Wednesday after concerned officials sent them to Zhang for a checkup.
"The milk powder crisis made us very worried about the health situation of baby animals," Ju Lijia, the animal park's public affairs manager, said by phone Wednesday. "We stopped feeding with Sanlu after it was found to be tainted."
The three baby animals were the only ones found with kidney stones, Ju said.
Officials at the Beijing Zoo and zoos in the other major cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xian said they had no cases of animals sickened from milk powder.
An official at the world's most famous panda reserve, the Wolong Nature Reserve, said the baby pandas there are not fed on milk made from formula.
The two gorillas, both from Hangzhou Wildlife World in eastern Zhejiang province and aged one and three, had been diagnosed with crystallization in their urine, according to a report on the website of the Hangzhou newspaper (www.hangzhou.com.cn).
"The crystallization now is very small, but it will grow bigger and then block the urine," said Zhang, who is also treating the two gorillas.
"No visible stones have been found so far," Zhang added.
Kidney stones are small, solid masses that form when salts or minerals normally found in urine crystallize inside the kidney.
If they become large enough, they can move out of the kidney, cause infection and lead to permanent kidney damage.