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Article

Etorphine-Azaperone Immobilisation for Translocation of Free-Ranging Masai Giraffes (Giraffa Camelopardalis Tippelskirchi): A Pilot Study

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Dipartimento di Medicina Veterinaria, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via dell’Università 6, 26900 Lodi, Italy
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Department of Veterinary Services, Kenya Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 40241-00100 Nairobi, Kenya
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Ecology and Environment Research Centre, Department of Natural Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester M1 5GD, UK
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(2), 322; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020322
Received: 20 November 2019 / Revised: 12 February 2020 / Accepted: 14 February 2020 / Published: 18 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Wildlife)
Due to their peculiar anatomy and sensitivity to drugs, giraffes are among the most challenging mammals to immobilise. Masai giraffes have recently been listed as endangered. Hence, their conservation needs actions that require veterinary capture such as translocations. In this study, we evaluated a new protocol of immobilisation for translocation of free-ranging Masai giraffes. The hypothesis is that, by combining a potent opioid with a tranquiliser, it is possible to mitigate the capture stress, which is a major cause of disastrous homeostatic consequences, including capture myopathy and death. The combination produced, in all individuals, smooth and quick inductions and reliable immobilisations. Although hypoxaemia in a few individuals and acidosis were seen, the overall cardiorespiratory function was adequate. Whereas the initial stress to the capture was limited in the individuals, likely due to tourism-related habituation, the opioid-related excitement and resulting increased exertion was responsible for worse immobilisation and physiological derangement. A low dose of an antagonist was used and evaluated and, in the two-week boma follow-up, it proved to be efficient in providing safe recoveries and transport. At the investigated doses, the combination provided partially reversed immobilisation that allowed uneventful translocation in free-ranging Masai giraffes.
Etorphine-azaperone immobilisation was evaluated for translocation of Masai giraffes. Nine giraffes were darted with 0.012 ± 0.001 mg/kg etorphine and 0.07 ± 0.01 mg/kg azaperone. Once ataxic, giraffes were roped for recumbency and restrained manually. Naltrexone (3 mg/mg etorphine) was immediately given intravenously to reverse etorphine-related side effects. Protocol evaluation included physiological monitoring, blood-gas analyses, anaesthetic times, and quality scores (1 = excellent, 4 = poor). Sedation onset and recumbency were achieved in 2.6 ± 0.8 and 5.6 ± 1.4 min. Cardio-respiratory function (HR = 70 ± 16, RR = 32 ± 8, MAP = 132 ± 16) and temperature (37.8 ± 0.5) were stable. Arterial gas analysis showed hypoxaemia in some individuals (PaO2 = 67 ± 8 mmHg) and metabolic acidosis (pH = 7.23 ± 0.05, PaCO2 = 34 ± 4 mmHg, HCO3 = 12.9 ± 1.2 mmol/l). Minor startle response occurred, while higher induction-induced excitement correlated to longer inductions, worse restraint, and decreased HCO3. After 19 ± 3.5 min of restraint, giraffes were allowed to stand and were loaded onto a chariot. Immobilisations were good and scored 2 (1–3). Inductions and recoveries were smooth and scored 1 (1–2). Translocations were uneventful and no complications occurred in 14-days boma follow-up. View Full-Text
Keywords: Masai giraffe; giraffe capture; chemical immobilisation; translocation; etorphine; azaperone; naltrexone; capture stress; giraffe physiology; blood gas analysis Masai giraffe; giraffe capture; chemical immobilisation; translocation; etorphine; azaperone; naltrexone; capture stress; giraffe physiology; blood gas analysis
MDPI and ACS Style

Vitali, F.; Kariuki, E.K.; Mijele, D.; Kaitho, T.; Faustini, M.; Preziosi, R.; Gakuya, F.; Ravasio, G. Etorphine-Azaperone Immobilisation for Translocation of Free-Ranging Masai Giraffes (Giraffa Camelopardalis Tippelskirchi): A Pilot Study. Animals 2020, 10, 322. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020322

AMA Style

Vitali F, Kariuki EK, Mijele D, Kaitho T, Faustini M, Preziosi R, Gakuya F, Ravasio G. Etorphine-Azaperone Immobilisation for Translocation of Free-Ranging Masai Giraffes (Giraffa Camelopardalis Tippelskirchi): A Pilot Study. Animals. 2020; 10(2):322. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020322

Chicago/Turabian Style

Vitali, Francesca, Edward K. Kariuki, Domnic Mijele, Titus Kaitho, Massimo Faustini, Richard Preziosi, Francis Gakuya, and Giuliano Ravasio. 2020. "Etorphine-Azaperone Immobilisation for Translocation of Free-Ranging Masai Giraffes (Giraffa Camelopardalis Tippelskirchi): A Pilot Study" Animals 10, no. 2: 322. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020322

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