Research and conservation of wide-ranging wild equids in most cases necessitate capture and handling of individuals. For free-roaming Mongolian khulan (Equus hemionus hemionus), also known as the khulan, capture involves a strenuous, high-speed chase, and physiologic responses have yet to be elucidated. We analyzed sequential arterial blood gas (ABG) samples as a proxy for respiratory and metabolic status of khulan during capture-related anesthesia. We recorded precise chase and induction times and monitored vital parameters and ABG from free-ranging khulan during anesthesia performed for GPS collaring. At the initiation of anesthesia, animals had ABG values similar to those recorded for thoroughbred horses (Equus caballus) after maximal exercise. Longer induction times resulted in higher arterial pH (P<0.001) and lower blood lactate (P<0.002). This trend of improvement continued over the course of anesthesia. The most important factor explaining pH and lactate was the time that elapsed between cessation of the chase and obtaining the first ABG sample, which, under field conditions, is tightly linked to induction time. All animals recovered uneventfully. Our data show that khulan recover and shift their metabolic status back toward expected normal values during opioid-based field anesthesia.
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Vol. 52 • No. 3