Tiletamine/zolazepam immobilization of adult post-moult southern elephant seal males

Horst.Bornemann [ at ] awi.de


Immobilization and anaesthesia of adult male southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) is potentially risky for animals and scientists. A tiletamine/zolazepam injection is considered the most appropriate drug combination for field application in this species. Since appropriate dosages are difficult to assess due to uncertainties in weight estimation, we used photogrammetry-derived weight estimates to ensure precise post hoc calculations of dosages. We report on 15 intramuscular tiletamine/zolazepam immobilizations of post-moult males of the upper weight class at King George Island/Isla 25 de Mayo, in April 2010. Initial injections were made using blowpipe syringes. Mean tiletamine/zolazepam combined dosages of 0.71 mg kg-1 (SD ± 0.16) ranged between 0.46 and 1.01 mg kg-1. In four cases, ketamine was added in dosages between 0.96 and 2.61 mg kg-1. Mean induction period was 23 min (± 15), and the mean duration of the procedures from first injection to release of the animals required 96 min (± 51). Four seals exhibited periods of apnoea, and one case of an extended, repetitive, and potentially critical apnoea (>25 and 8 min) required intervention in order to successfully re-initiate spontaneous respiration. All procedures resulted in proper immobilizations allowing for the deployment of the satellite tags on the seals’ heads. The fact that even substantial deviations between the initial weight estimates and the photogrammetry-derived weight estimates had no apparent effect on the course of the immobilization underlines the drugs’ wide safety margin in this species.

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DOI 10.1007/s00300-013-1378-5

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Bornemann, H. , de Bruyn, P. J. N. , Reisinger, R. R. , Kästner, S. , Márquez, M. E. I. , McIntyre, T. , Bester, M. N. and Plötz, J. (2013): Tiletamine/zolazepam immobilization of adult post-moult southern elephant seal males , Polar Biology . doi: 10.1007/s00300-013-1378-5


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