The Use of Controlled Induction to Minimize Traumatic Injury to Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) Using Thiafentanil, Medetomidine, and Ketamine
In the last 5 yr, thirteen full immobilizations of eight reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) (340–914 kg) were performed, for either castrations or significant corrective hoof trimming. All giraffe were immobilized with thiafentanil (0.44–1.18 µg/kg), medetomidine (0.9–2.4 µg/kg), and ketamine (0.55–1.62 mg/kg) administered in a single dart. Occasional intraprocedural supplementation with guaifenesin (0.4% in NaCl) was used, by continuous-rate intravenous infusion administered to effect. In eleven of these immobilizations, giraffes were darted while confined in a pen with chain-link fence walls and decomposed granite substrate and allowed to become recumbent without intervention. Inductions were generally rapid and uneventful. However, two juvenile males suffered mandibular fractures after colliding with the fence or ground while becoming recumbent.
An in-path giraffe restraint device was subsequently utilized for controlled induction of two juvenile male giraffe. The Dallas Zoo restraint device is positioned within a pathway that the giraffe must traverse to exit the barn. It has elevated catwalks on the sides, a manual locking push-wall, and a hinged opposite wall that swings out to a 90-degree position, allowing manual manipulation of the recumbent giraffe out of the device. In each case the giraffe was darted after entering the restraint device and being closed within it by closing a sliding door. A halter, eye cover, and ear plugs were placed on the head as early as the giraffe would tolerate it. A lead rope was passed over an overhead-mounted pulley, which aided control of the giraffe’s head as the giraffe dropped into sternal position. Once the giraffe was able to be safely manipulated, the side wall was opened while maintaining head control, and personnel entered to support and manipulate the giraffe. An endotracheal tube was inserted, ropes and straps were placed under and around the body, and the giraffe was moved out through the open side wall of the device into an adjacent open stall to complete the procedure.
The risks of giraffe immobilization have been well-documented and include both induction hazards and anesthetic complications.1-8 Most potential induction period problems involve self-trauma while becoming recumbent. If the facility design, management will, and staff expertise allow, the use of a restraint device for controlled induction is recommended to minimize these complications.2,5,6
The authors gratefully acknowledge the veterinary and animal staff members at the Dallas Zoo.
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