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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Vet. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fvets.2019.00402

Evaluation of an Immobilization Protocol Using Etorphine, Azaperone and Butorphanol in Free-Ranging Warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) in Kruger National Park, South Africa

 Donald Neiffer1*,  Peter E. Buss2,  Jennie Hewlett2, 3,  Guy Hausler4, Leana Rossouw2, Tebogo Manamela2,  Brittany G. Grenus5, Emily Thulson6, Francisco Olea-Popelka6, 7 and  Michele Miller4
  • 1National Zoological Park (SI), United States
  • 2Department of Veterinary Services, South African National Parks, South Africa
  • 3Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • 4Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • 5Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, United States
  • 6College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, United States
  • 7Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Twenty free-ranging warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, were immobilized with a combination of etorphine (0.039 ± 0.005 mg/kg) and azaperone (0.44 ± 0.06 mg/kg) administered intramuscularly by dart. Butorphanol (1 mg per mg etorphine) was administered intravenously at t=5 min. A standardized scoring system was used to record induction, immobilization and recovery characteristics. Physiological parameters were recorded at 5 min intervals and an arterial sample collected for blood gas analyses every 15 mins. At 45 mins after butorphanol administration, immobilization was partially reversed by administering naltrexone (40x etorphine dose in mg) intravenously. Overall, induction quality was good, with the mean time to safe handling 5.9 ± 1.4 mins. The majority of immobilization scores (54%) over the entire monitoring period (40 mins) were at level 3, consistent with a light plane in which some reflexes were still present but the animal could be safely handled. Overall mean heart rate was 94.7 ± 15.3 beats per min, mean respiratory rate was 14.7 ± 9.8 breaths per min, and the mean rectal temperature was 38.5 ± 1.0˚C. Significant hypoxia (overall mean oxygen arterial partial pressure 38.8 ± 8.4 mmHg), hypercapnia (mean carbon dioxide arterial partial pressure 63.3 ± 7.8 mmHg), and acidosis (mean pH 7.28 ± 0.04) were observed in immobilized warthogs. Following antagonist administration, warthogs were standing within 1.0 ± 0.4 mins, with the majority of recoveries scored as excellent. The drug combination proved to be effective in the immobilization of free-ranging warthogs with rapid induction and recovery, but with significant cardio-respiratory changes. Therefore, this drug combination may be useful when rapid immobilization and recovery are indicated, but should be used cautiously in compromised warthogs.

Keywords: Azaperone, Butorphanol, Etorphine, Immobilization, Phacochoerus africanus, Warthog

Received: 29 Jul 2019; Accepted: 28 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Neiffer, Buss, Hewlett, Hausler, Rossouw, Manamela, Grenus, Thulson, Olea-Popelka and Miller. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Donald Neiffer, National Zoological Park (SI), Washington D.C., United States,