Meerkats (Suricata suricatta) are routinely anesthetized with isoflurane in zoo and field settings. Twenty healthy adult meerkats of mixed age and sex held in the Zoological Society of London's collection were anesthetized with 4% isoflurane by face mask for routine health examinations. The procedure was repeated 5 mo later in the same group of animals utilizing sevoflurane at 5% for induction, and again 3 mo later with sevoflurane at 6.5% for induction to approximate equipotency with isoflurane. The speed and quality of induction and recovery were compared between the two volatile anesthetic agents. There was no statistically significant difference in the speed of induction across any of the anesthetic regimes. There was a significant difference in recovery times between isoflurane and 6.5% sevoflurane (427 ± 218 and 253 ± 65 sec, respectively [mean ± SD]). Under the conditions of this study, sevoflurane at 6.5% induction dose resulted in better quality induction and recovery than sevoflurane at 5% induction or isoflurane. The mean heart and respiratory rates during anesthesia were higher using 5% sevoflurane for induction but there was no significant difference in either rate between isoflurane and sevoflurane used at a 6.5% induction dose. This study suggests that sevoflurane at a dose of 6.5% for induction and 4% for maintenance is a safe and effective anesthetic agent in healthy adult meerkats. Rapid return to normal behavior after anesthesia is important in all zoo species but particularly so in animals with a complex social and hierarchical structure such as meerkats. For this species, the advantage afforded by the speed of recovery with sevoflurane may offset the cost in certain circumstances.
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