Original Research

Disentanglement of Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus) with reversible medetomidine-midazolam-butorphanol

Brett R. Gardner, Brandon Spolander, S. Mduduzi Seakamela, Steven A. McCue, Pieter G.H. Kotze, Maryke Musson
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 92 | a2119 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v92i0.2119 | © 2021 Brett Richard Gardner, Brandon Spolander, Simon Mduduzi Seakamela, Steven Andy McCue, Pieter Gideon Kotze, Maryke Musson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 September 2020 | Published: 21 May 2021

About the author(s)

Brett R. Gardner, Werribee Open Range Veterinary Hospital, Zoos Victoria, Werribee, Australia
Brandon Spolander, Aquavet Africa, Hermanus, South Africa
S. Mduduzi Seakamela, Department of Forestry and Fisheries, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Cape Town, South Africa
Steven A. McCue, Department of Forestry and Fisheries, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Cape Town, South Africa
Pieter G.H. Kotze, Department of Forestry and Fisheries, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Cape Town, South Africa
Maryke Musson, Department of Education Foundation, Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Anaesthesia in pinnipeds is considered a much higher risk than in most terrestrial mammals because of their frequent proximity to water and physiological and anatomical adaptations related to diving, which also influence their anaesthesia management. Anaesthetising and immobilising entangled seals does not allow for selection of animals that are at a safe distance from the water’s edge. Medetomidine-midazolam-butorphanol (MMB) sedation was trialled on eight entangled Cape fur seals (CFS) (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus) to determine if it was safe to use on animals that entered the water post-darting. The MMB was given at an estimated dose of 0.03 mg/kg, 0.2 mg/kg and 0.2 mg/kg, respectively, via remote darting. Sedation was reversed with intramuscular atipamezole (0.15 mg/kg) and naltrexone (0.4 mg/kg) to antagonise the effects of medetomidine and butorphanol, respectively. Moderate sedation was achieved in six animals. Six of the animals entered the water after being darted. There was a single mortality and a single animal that was too lightly sedated for capture. The preliminary results indicate that MMB produces suitable sedation for disentanglement of CFS. Additionally, MMB might be suitable for application to field-based biological research.

Keywords

reversible anaesthesia; immobilisation; Cape fur seal; medetomidine; midazolam; butorphanol; disentanglement; atipamezole; naltrexone; Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus

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