The aim of this study was to compare the effects of two anesthetic induction protocols for long procedures carried out in the field in Tapiridae. Sixteen tapirs were divided into two groups (n=8) receiving either detomidine (DET) or dexmedetomidine (DEX) for anesthetic induction. All animals were anesthetized by intramuscular administration of a combination of ketamine (1.5 mg/kg), midazolam (0.2 mg/kg), plus either DET (0.04 mg/kg) or DEX (0.007 mg/kg). Anesthetic maintenance was by continuous infusion of ketamine, midazolam, and glyceryl guaiacol ether at 2 mg/kg per hour, 0.1 mg/kg per hour, and 100 mg/kg per hour, respectively). The animals were kept anesthetized for a total of 50 min to allow physical examination and collection of biological material as part of a research program, and physiological variables (heart rate [HR], respiratory rate, oxyhemoglobin saturation [SpO2], rectal temperature [RT], mean arterial pressure [MAP], blood glucose [GLI], and cortisol) and electrocardiogram were recorded during anesthesia. Anesthetic recovery was monitored by two researchers who were not informed of the induction protocol group. The recorded results were statistically evaluated. In both groups there was an initial increase in MAP, which subsequently decreased; RT gradually decreased during anesthesia; HR and GLI increased throughout the procedure; SpO2 was below normal throughout the procedure. Cortisol levels were significantly higher in the DEX group than in the DET group. Also, the animals in the DEX group had a longer recovery time than those in the DET group. On the basis of the results, we conclude that the combination of alpha-2 agonists and midazolam, ketamine, and glyceryl guaicol ether is an appropriate protocol for the anesthesia of tapirs in the field. However, in moderately extended procedures oxygen supplementation is recommended. Additionally, DEX resulted in fewer cardiovascular effects and longer-lasting sedation than DET.