White rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum) anesthetized with etorphine combinations develop severe pathophysiologic changes, including hypoventilation, hypoxemia and metabolic acidosis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the addition of butorphanol to the immobilizing mixture on the cardiopulmonary effects in free-ranging white rhinoceroses darted from the helicopter. In the control group (n = 15), the rhinoceroses were anesthetized with etorphine, azaperone, detomidine, and hyaluronidase administered intramuscularly. In the treatment group (n = 16), 10–20 mg of butorphanol was added to the combination. Within 10 min of becoming immobile, vital parameters (heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature) and blood gas analyses were taken, and measurements were repeated after 10 (treatment group) and 20 min (control group). Both groups showed respiratory and metabolic acidosis, hypoxemia, and hypercapnia. In the control group, the arterial partial pressure of oxygen was significantly higher and the alveolar-to-arterial oxygen pressure gradients were significantly lower in all body positions compared with the butorphanol group. Oxygen hemoglobin saturation in the control group was higher than in the butorphanol group only in the lateral position. Improvements in arterial oxygen levels were observed in all animals when placed in sternal recumbency. There were no significant differences in the mean induction times between groups, but the distance the butorphanol group ran was significantly less after darting than in the control group. By adding butorphanol to the immobilizing mixture, no benefits in ventilation were seen; although, size differences make comparisons difficult. Running for a shorter distance during induction could be beneficial in the prevention of severe acid-base imbalances and capture myopathy.
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Vol. 38 • No. 3