Chemical immobilization of free-ranging and captive wildlife is often required in many clinical situations. In this trial, tiletamine-zolazepam was combined with the α2-agonist, detomidine, in order to use the least amount of anesthetic drug possible to achieve a rapid immobilization; to ensure safety for animals and operators; and to be easily reversible with specific antagonists for a fast recovery. Twelve captive Asiatic black bears were anesthetized for clinical procedures, including clinical examination and blood sample collection, and for electrocardiographic and echocardiographic procedures. The combination detomidine-tiletamine-zolazepam, at the dosages of 0.03 mg/kg for detomidine and 1.5 mg/kg for tiletamine-zolazepam, proved to be reliable and effective in immobilizing Asiatic black bears for a 1-hr handling period for routine clinical procedures. Minimal or no respiratory and/or cardiopulmonary adverse side effects were observed, even with dosages calculated on the basis of an estimated body weight. The respiratory rate, pulse rate, and hemoglobin-oxygen saturation remained stable for the entire duration of anesthesia. Cardiac rhythm was always sinusal in all animals. Small injection volumes and darts for blowpipe use were utilized to minimize tissue damage at the site of injection. Induction and recovery were smooth and predictable, and provided for the safety of operators who could observe the bears' activities from a safe distance. Furthermore, the availability of the α2-antagonist atipamezole to counteract the effects of detomidine made this anesthetic regimen easily controllable and reversible. Moreover, the recovery time can be shortened by intravenous administration of this antagonist drug.
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Vol. 39 • No. 4