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Dec 14, 2007

When anaesthetising chimpanzees, is a squeeze cage a viable alternative to darting?

When anaesthetising chimpanzees, is a squeeze cage a viable alternative to darting? From Chester Zoo - North of England Zoological Society

Stress-reducting method of anaesthesia that allows animals back in their social group earlier

When anaesthetising chimpanzees, is a squeeze cage a viable alternative to darting?.

In the late 1980’s, to better mimic situations in the wild, Chester Zoo integrated several small groups of chimpanzees into one large group. Currently Chester Zoo houses the largest single social group in a European zoo (n=30). This social group has been identified by many researchers as the ideal situation for chimpanzees in captivity to exhibit natural behavioural and social interactions. The only time an animal is separated from this group is to perform a veterinary procedure, which invariably requires an anaesthetic.

The aim of this pilot study was to decrease the stress during anaesthetic delivery. This will increase predictability and safety of anaesthetic procedures, thereby, allowing for a faster reintroduction back into the social group. To achieve this, a customised squeeze crate for administering medications and anaesthetics to adult chimpanzees was developed. Differences in anaesthetic parameters were compared between anaesthetic administration using air pressured darts and a squeeze cage with hand injection.

When using the squeeze cage, significant reductions were found in the recovery time post anaesthetic reversal, and in the dose rate of sedative (medetomidine) required. Overall variations in a variety of anaesthetic parameters were also reduced. Therefore a squeeze cage was a viable alternative to darting for anaesthetic induction in this large group of chimpanzees.

We have also successfully transferred this technology to a chimpanzee field programme, Limbe Wildlife Centre, in Cameroon, which Chester Zoo supports.

Developed by:  Chester Zoo - North of England Zoological Society

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