Nineteen white rhinoceroses (Ceratotherium simum) were anesthetized with 4 mg of etorphine hydrochloride; 35–40 mg of midazolam; and 7,500 international units of hyaluronidase for dehorning purposes at a game ranch in South Africa, to investigate this anesthetic combination. Median time to recumbency was 548 sec (range 361–787 sec). Good muscle relaxation and no muscle rigidity or tremors were observed in 18 animals, and only 1 individual showed slight tremors. In addition, all animals received butorphanol i.v. 5 min after recumbency at the ratio of 10 mg of butorphanol per 1 mg of etorphine. Blood gas and selected physiologic parameters were measured in the recumbent animal, immediately before and 10 min after the administration of butorphanol. Statistically significant improvements were observed in blood gas physiologic and cardiopulmonary parameters 10 min after the administration of butorphanol, with a reduction in arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide, systolic blood pressure, and heart rate and an increase in pH, arterial partial pressure of oxygen, oxygen saturation, and respiratory rate (all P < 0.005). After i.v. naltrexone reversal, recovery was uneventful, and median time to walking or running was 110 sec (range 71–247 sec). The results indicate etorphine and midazolam combination is an effective alternative anesthetic protocol and produces good muscle relaxation. Furthermore, i.v. butorphanol was associated with improved blood gas values and cardiopulmonary function for at least 10 min postinjection.
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