Chemical immobilisation of giraffe to facilitate short procedures

Objective: To describe the chemical immobilisation of giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) for short procedures at Taronga Zoo.

Design: A clinical report.

Animals: Five giraffe.

Procedure: The weight of each animal was determined and pre-immobilisation fasting, careful preparation of the site, and planning were carried out prior to each procedure. Etorphine and acetylpromazine were used as the sole immobilising agents. During immobilisation, elevation of the head and constant monitoring of the heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature were employed; blood pressure and blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) were monitored in one case 5. Intravenous fluids were administered. None of the animals was intubated, and supplemental oxygen was administered via an intranasal cannula in case 5. At the end of the procedures, diprenorphine was administered to reverse immobilisation.

Results: Induction times were 8 to 15 min. The mean heart rate, respiratory rate and rectal temperature were 58.6 beats per min, 12.2 breaths per min and 37.1 degrees C, respectively. SpO2 in case 5 increased to over 90% with the administration of supplemental oxygen. Recovery to standing after reversal of immobilisation was rapid (2 or 3 min) in three cases, but took 30 and 31 min in the other two.

Conclusions: Successful immobilisation of giraffe relies on consideration of all variables prior to and during the procedure. Careful selection and preparation of the venue and presence of sufficient numbers of adequately trained personnel are essential. Body weight determination allows accurate calculation of immobilising agent dose. Pre-immobilisation fasting followed by elevation of head and neck help preclude regurgitation and aspiration. Relevant vital signs monitoring, fluid replacement and oxygen supplementation promote cardiopulmonary homeostasis. Preoperative planning to ensure efficient performance of the procedure helps minimise recumbency time and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Last Updated
January 26, 2021
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