Lowland anoa (Bubalus depressicornis) are a small bovine species native to the island of Sulawesi. Anoa are small in comparison to their relatives the water buffalo, with a height of ∼85 cm, body length ∼180 cm1, and weight of up to 300 kg2. Historically, chemical immobilization has been the method of choice for restraint of these small animals because of their size, strength, and aggressive tendencies. Physical restraint has been all but impossible with healthy animals. By adapting a system employed by cattlemen for working domestic calves, veterinarians can perform routine exams and medical procedures without chemical immobilization.
At Peace River Center for Conservation (PRCC), 25 anoa were worked through a standard squeeze chute. Adult anoas housed at PRCC average 76 cm in height, 176 cm in length, and weigh an average of 100 kg. The animals’ diminutive size necessitated some minor modifications of the procedure used for working domestic cattle. Anoa have horns that are angled awkwardly and can present a problem when the animal is restrained in the chute, thus, it is best that when the animal’s head is released, someone is there to catch the horns and hold the head still. Once the chute is “squeezed down” and the head caught, the animal is effectively and safely restrained for routine procedures. The majority of the animals worked through the chute were healthy and receiving annual exams which included vaccinations, blood collection, and physical exams. Trans-rectal ultrasound was performed on several females to determine pregnancy status and progress. Lameness evaluation was also performed and included radiographs and hoof trims. Twice daily or three times daily treatments can be performed safely using the chute, whereas multiple chemical immobilizations in a 24-hour period would be unsafe. All procedures were accomplished with no injuries to staff or animals.
Lowland anoa are extremely endangered with less than 2500 (IUCN 2000) left in the wild. It is imperative that routine preventive health procedures and examinations be performed on captive animals without undue stress and risk to the animal. Chemical immobilization carries an inherent risk. By developing methods for manipulating the animals without the need for chemical restraint, husbandry, and overall care for the animals is improved.
1. Macdonald D, ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York, NY: Facts on File publications; 1985:552.
2. Hutchins M, Kleiman DG, Geist V, Mcdade MC. Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., Volume 16, Mammals. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group; 2003.