We evaluated the effectiveness of a ketamine-medetomidine-midazolam drug combination administered intramuscularly by remote injection followed by isoflurane anesthesia in free-living aardvarks (Orycteropus afer). Seven aardvarks weighing 33–45 kg were immobilized to perform surgical implantation of temperature loggers using 3.8 mg/kg ketamine, 0.1 mg/kg medetomidine, and 0.25 mg/kg midazolam. Immobilized aardvarks were transported to a surgical theater and received 0.5–1% isoflurane in oxygen after tracheal intubation. After surgery, medetomidine was antagonized with 0.5 mg/kg atipamezole, and aardvarks were released at the site of capture. We recorded induction and recovery times, clinical and physiologic parameters, and conducted blood gas analyses before and during isoflurane administration. Aardvarks showed initial effects within 3 min and reached lateral recumbency within 7 min after drug administration. Heart rate (50–67 beats/min), respiratory rate (10–15 breaths/min), oxygen hemoglobin saturation (SaO2; 90–97%), and rectal temperature (34.0–37.5 C) were within acceptable physiologic ranges. Mean arterial blood pressure was initially high (146±12 mmHg), but the hypertension resolved over time. Rectal temperature dropped significantly during anesthesia. Four animals had to be treated to relieve apnea. Blood gas analyses revealed mild to moderate hypercapnia but no hypoxaemia. The ketamine-medetomidine-midazolam combination provided effective immobilization. Combined with a low concentration of isoflurane, it can be used for prolonged surgical procedures in wild aardvarks. However, caution is needed, and monitoring of clinical parameters is required.
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Vol. 50 • No. 4