Posture, ventilation, and acid-base balance using auricular venous blood values (pH, lactate, base excess [BE], HCO3, PO2, SO2, and PCO2), oxygen saturation of hemoglobin (SpO2), and end-tidal carbon dioxide (PETCO2) were compared between sternal (STE) and lateral (LAT) recumbency in free-ranging black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis bicornis) receiving oxygen insufflation. Data are reported as median, minimum, and maximum (median [minimum, maximum]). Thirty-six desert-adapted black rhinoceros (20 male, 16 female; age 8 [1.5, 33] yr) were immobilized in Namibia in March and April of 2008, from a helicopter, by remote intramuscular injection with etorphine HCl, azaperone, and hyaluronidase. Time from darting to recumbency was 6.0 (3, 15.5) min. Data were organized into two sampling periods: sample period 1 (P1, collected within 0–20 min postdarting; 13 [6.5, 19] min) and sample period 2 (P2, collected between 20–40 min postdarting; 32 [22.3, 39] min). All animals were acidemic (pH 7.24 [7.07, 7.32]) and hypoxemic (PO2 51 [38, 95.2]; SO2 78 [64, 96] mmHg) after capture. Lactate at P1 was 7.2 (3.2, 16.8) mmol/l and decreased (P=0.01) to 4.6 (1.2, 10.9) mmol/l at P2. At P2, lactate was less (P=0.06) in LAT 3.5 (1.2, 8.6) mmol/l than in STE posture 7.4 (3.1, 10.9) mmol/l. In P2, PO2, SO2, and SpO2 were higher (P=0.02, 0.10, and 0.01, respectively) in STE than in LAT. End-tidal carbon dioxide in LAT was 38 (26, 47) mmHg and increased (P<0.001) rapidly to 48 (37, 55) mmHg when animals were moved into STE; no corresponding change in PCO2 was observed. These preliminary findings suggest that STE posture in recumbent black rhinoceros reduces dead-space ventilation and improves oxygenation. Lateral posture was associated with lower blood lactate, quicker lactate recovery, or both. It is possible that the posture of recumbent rhinoceros after capture affects lactate accumulation and clearance, or both, and procedures should consider positioning in order to enhance perfusion.

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