Elephant Formulary

© 2003-17 Susan K. Mikota DVM and Donald C. Plumb, Pharm.D. Published by
Elephant Care International

Disclaimer: the information on this page is used entirely at the reader's discretion, and is made available on the express condition that no liability, expressed or implied, is accepted by the authors or publisher for the accuracy, content, or use thereof.



Elephant specific information, if available, is in blue.



CAUTION!  Sedative and anesthetic drug dosages for African elephants often vary from those for Asian elephants.  Do not assume that the recommendations for one species can be applied to the other.  Significant variation may also occur between individual elephants.  Higher doses may be needed in wild or excited animals. Unless otherwise specified, doses refer to captive elephants.  The information provided here should be used as a guideline only.  Consultation with experienced colleagues is advised.


a) For the transport of wild African elephants, according to shoulder height: 1.60-1.69 m shoulder height (40 mg haloperidol); 1.70-1.79 m (50 mg); 1.80-1.89 m (60 mg); 1.90-2.09 m (70 mg); 2.10-2.19 m (80 mg); 2.20-2.39 m (100 mg); > 2.40 m (120 mg). Do not give haloperidol to juveniles < 1.6 m.  Elephants 1.8 – 2.1 m are profoundly influenced by the drug and difficult to transport.  Effective for about 8 hours (du Toit, 2001).


b) Following immobilization for translocation of 670 African elephants in family units in 1993, haloperidol (40 to 120 mg depending on body size) was used as a tranquilizer during transport. In addition, azaperone, (50-200 mg) was often administered to avoid aggression (Coatsee, 1996).


c) 40 mg/animal IM or oral for captive Asian elephants (Cheeran, 1995).


d) an adult Asian bull was given 100 mg haloperidol orally bid. Text below (Cheeran, et.al. 1992).


Elephant References:

a) du Toit,J.G., 2001. Veterinary Care of African Elephants. Novartis, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, 1-59 pp.   www.wildlifedecisionsupport.com

b) Coetsee,C. 1996. Elephant Translocations. Pachyderm 22:81

c) Cheeran,J.V., Chandrasekharan,K., and Radhakrishnan,K., 1995. Principles and Practice of Fixing Dose of Drugs for Elephants . In: Daniel,J.C. (Editor), A Week with Elephants; Proceedings of the International Seminar on Asian Elephants. Bombay Natural History Society; Oxford University Press, Bombay, India pp. 430-438

d) Cheeran,J.V., Chandrasekharan,K., and Radhakrishnan,K., 1992. A case of ochlophobia in a tusker. In: Silas,E.G., Nair,M.K., and Nirmalan,G. (Editors), The Asian Elephant: Ecology, Biology, Diseases, Conservation and Management (Proceedings of the National Symposium on the Asian Elephant held at the Kerala Agricultural University, Trichur, India, January 1989). Kerala Agricultural University, Trichur, India pp. 176

Full text: An adult captive tusker to be used for ceremonial purpose could not tolerate crowd (ochlophobia – fear of the crowd). The animal was put on 2000 mg of chlorpromazine twice daily orally and behaved normally during the entire festival season of 6 months.  The animal again showed symptoms of fear of the crowd when the owner withdrew the drug.  So the animal was put on 100 mg haloperidol twice daily orally.  This relieved the symptoms very well but without sedation compared to chlorpromazine hydrochloride.

See also:

Ebedes,H.  1995. The use of long term neuroleptics in the confinement and transport of wild animals. Joint Conf AAZV/WDA/AAWV. Pages: 173-176

Raath,J.P., 1993. Chemical capture of the African elephant. In: The Capture and care manual : capture, care, accommodation and transportation of wild African animals. Pretoria : Wildlife Decision Support Services : South African Veterinary  Foundation, Pretoria pp. 484-511

Blumer,E.S.  1991. A review of the use of selected neuroleptic drugs in the management of nondomestic hoofstock. Proc. Am. Assoc. Zoo Vet. Pages: 333-339

Lance,W.R. 1991. New pharmaceutical tools for the 1990’s. Proceedings of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians 354-359