Chemical Immobilization of Free-Ranging and Captive Sunda Clouded Leopards (Neofelis diardi) with Two Combinations: Medetomidine-Ketamine and Tiletamine-Zolazepam
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2015

Fernando Nájera1,2,3,6,7, LV, MS; Andrew J. Hearn2, BSc, MSc; Diana A. Ramírez Saldivar3,4, MVZ; Meaghan N. Evans3,5, BSc; Sergio Guerrero-Sánchez3,5, MVZ, MSc; Joao Brandao6, LMV, MS; Senthilvel K.S.S. Nathan4, DVM; Ignacio de Gaspar1, LV, PhD; Luis Revuelta1, PhD; Benoit Goossens3,4,5, PhD

1The Bornean Wild Cats Veterinary Project, Department of Animal Physiology, Veterinary College, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain; 2Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; 3Danau Girang Field Centre, c/o Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah, Malaysia; 4Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah, Malaysia; 5Organisms and Environment Division, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK; 6Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, USA; 7Unity College, Unity, ME, USA


The Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) is an elusive felid found only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Considered one of the least known felids in the world, no information is available regarding the veterinary management of this species, either in or ex situ.1 The Bornean Wild Cats Veterinary Project gave veterinary assistance for the capture of free-ranging Sunda clouded leopards and performed physical examinations of captive individuals from different facilities in Malaysia and Indonesia. This study provided the first opportunity to investigate the responses of this species to immobilization protocols both in situ and ex situ.

Medetomidine (Dorbene®a, 39–54 µg/kg) and ketamine (Imalgene 1000®b, 3–4.39 mg/kg) were administered IM during six immobilizations, resulting in mean induction times of 7.5±3.3 min. After a mean anesthesia time of 66±14.9 min, 0.2 mg/kg of atipamezole (Alzane®c) was injected IM, observing effects of the reversal in 11.2±1.4 min. Tiletamine-zolazepam (Zoletil 100®d, 6.8–10.8 mg/kg) was administered on seven occasions. Data were analyzed using the non-parametric statistic test Mann Whitney U test. Induction times observed with this combination were shorter (5.7±3 min; p<0.05) and anesthesia and recovery times were statistically longer (347±162.9 min and 30.3±5.4 min, respectively; p<0.05). Respiratory rate, heart rate, body temperature and partial saturation of arterial oxygenation (Nellcor®e) were measured during the immobilizations.

Both combinations resulted in safe and reliable immobilizations, although given the favorable anesthesia and recovery times of medetomidine-ketamine, this combination is recommended for the procedures performed here.


a. Dorbene®, Pfizer, Madrid, Spain.
b. Imalgene 1000®, Rhone Mérieux, Lyon, France.
c. Alzane®, Pfizer, Madrid, Spain.
d. Zoletil 100®, Virbac SA, Carros, France.
e. Nellcor® Oximax N-65, Nellcor Inc., Pleasanton, CA, USA.


The authors thank Sime Darby Foundation, Robertson Foundation, Panthera, the Recanati-Kaplan family, Zoo Atlanta, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Houston Zoo, The Rufford Foundation and Idea Wild for supporting our research on Sunda clouded leopards in Sabah.

Literature Cited

1.  Hearn AJ, Ross J, Pamin D, Bernard H, Hunter L, Macdonald DW. Insights into the spatial and temporal ecology of the Sunda clouded leopard Neofelis diardi. Raff Bull Zool. 2013;61(2):871–875.


Speaker Information
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Fernando Nájera, LV, MS
The Bornean Wild Cats Veterinary Project
Department of Animal Physiology, Veterinary College
Complutense University of Madrid
Madrid, Spain

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