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General anaesthesia of a black leopard (Panthera pardus) with alfaxalone, ketamine and isoflurane
  1. Isabel Angelica Jimenez1,2,
  2. Erika Ashley Militana3 and
  3. Manuel Martin-Flores3
  1. 1College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States
  2. 2Animal Medical Center, New York, New York, United States
  3. 3Anesthesia and Pain Medicine Service, Department of Clinical Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States
  1. Correspondence to Dr Isabel Angelica Jimenez; iaj7{at}


A one-year-old captive black leopard (Panthera pardus) was evaluated for chronic lethargy, behavioural abnormalities and vomiting. The leopard was immobilised with intramuscular alfaxalone (Alfaxan; 1.6 mg/kg) and ketamine (3.1 mg/kg) at doses similar to those used in domestic cats. General anaesthesia was induced with intravenous alfaxalone (1.6 mg/kg) and maintained with isoflurane. Imaging revealed hydrocephalus and a paresophageal hernia. The hernia was surgically corrected. During prolonged anaesthesia (5 hours and 40 minutes), this protocol produced smooth induction, reliable depth, successful deep extubation and smooth, rapid recovery, without major electrolyte abnormalities. This is the first reported use of alfaxalone in a leopard and Alfaxan in any large cat. Alfaxalone may be an alternative to alpha-2 adrenergic agonists in non-domestic felids and may decrease the risk of hyperkalemia associated with those agents. Alfaxalone may also be considered for patients with cardiac or neurological disease, to avoid or reduce the use of ketamine.

  • anaesthesia
  • analgesia
  • cats
  • pain
  • wild animals
  • zoo animals
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  • Contributors IAJ: interpretation of clinical information, literature review, manuscript preparation and revision. EAM: development of anaesthesia protocol, interpretation of clinical information and manuscript revision. MM-F: development of anaesthesia protocol, interpretation of clinical information and manuscript revision.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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