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West G, Heard D, Caulkett N. Blackwell Publishing, Ames, Iowa, USA, 2007. 718 pp. ISBN: 9780-8138-2566-3. $185.99CDN.
This book is broken into 6 sections encompassing 60 chapters written by various authors. The first 3 sections are devoted to the basics involved in immobilization and anesthesia of zoo animals and wildlife. Topics covered include clinical pharmacology, euthanasia, remote drug delivery and mobile inhalant techniques, monitoring, capture myopathy, and physical restraint. The following 3 sections are devoted to more specific concerns for various phyla (including invertebrates, fish, amphibians, birds-cage, waterfowl and ratites, and many mammalian groups). The opening chapter on pharmacology is very thorough and provides a great review for practitioner and student alike. In the preface, the authors state that they attempted to include chapter authors with experience in immobilizing and anesthetizing the species that they were writing about. The benefit to the reader is that the chapters are comprehensive and filled with practical, first-hand knowledge. Of equal importance is the discussion of techniques that may have been previously acceptable but have more recently fallen out of favor because of advancements in both understanding and available pharmacology, which will allow practitioners to provide the best care for their patients.
Each chapter attempts to cover topics such as physiology, specific relevant anatomy, restraint, drug choices, pre-anesthetic preparation (blood collection, etc.), considerations for monitoring, anesthesia and recovery, and possible complications. Though not all chapters cover all of these topics, every attempt at including the most relevant and pertinent information has been made. Tables, diagrams, and pictures of the techniques used have been included where applicable. These forms of additional information are very useful, clear, concise, and easy to read and are included only where they enhance the communication of the subject matter or provide a valuable quick reference. In addition, each chapter also provides a list of cited references should the reader wish to review specific topics further.
This book is fantastic and reflects the effort and expertise of its chapter authors. Though there are other books that cover some of the topics presented here, such as the Handbook of Wildlife Chemical Immobilization (Kreeger et al) and the Zoo and Wildlife Medicine books (Fowler), none come close to the breadth and depth of information this book covers. Even those practitioners that only rarely see exotic species will get a lot out of this book as will students who are thinking about working in the zoo or wildlife medicine field, wildlife biologists, and rehabilitators. I have personally used this book several times and have found it to be not only easily understandable but full of valuable information.