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Evaluation of effectiveness, safety and reliability of intramuscular medetomidine-ketamine for captive great apes
  1. C. Adami, DVM, Dr Med Vet, PhD1,
  2. C. Wenker, Dr Med Vet2,
  3. S. Hoby, Dr Med Vet2 and
  4. A. Bergadano, Dr Med Vet, DVM, PhD, Dip ECVAA, Dr Habil.3
  1. 1Department of Veterinary Clinical Science, Anaesthesiology and Pain Therapy Division, Vetsuisse-Faculty, University of Berne, Länggasstrasse n.124, Berne CH-3012, Switzerland
  2. 2Zoof Basel, Binningerstrasse 40, Basel CH-4054, Switzerland
  3. 3F.Hoffmann-La Roche AG, Grenzacherstrasse 124, Basel CH-4070, Switzerland
  1. E-mail for correspondence: chiara.adami{at}


Twenty great apes (six orangutans, eight chimpanzees and six gorillas) were anaesthetised prior to being transported for undergoing diagnostic and interventional procedures. Anaesthesia was induced with a combination of medetomidine and ketamine administered intramuscularly through a dart syringe. The onset of anaesthesia varied among apes: the mean (±sd) time from darting to recumbency was 12.13 (±1.9), 18.5 (±8.7) and 22.2 (±9.2) minutes in chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas, respectively. The depth of anaesthesia was sufficient to allow safe removal of the animals from the enclosure, intravenous catheter placement and manipulation; however, the anaesthetic effect was short-acting (20 (±7) minutes in orangutans, 16 (±14) in gorillas, and 10 (±4) minutes in chimpanzees, respectively) and isoflurane administration was necessary in the majority of the apes to prolong the duration of anaesthesia, especially when lengthier procedures were performed. The sedative effect of medetomidine was reversed at the end of each procedure with atipamezole, and recovery was smooth and uneventful for all animals.

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