Tranquiliser Gun.

Year. 1950s

Creator. Colin Murdoch

Where. New Zealand


The tranquilizer gun is used for safely tranquilizing animals. The idea for a tranquilizer gun came to Murdoch in the 1950s when he was working with colleagues studying the introduced wild goat and deer populations in New Zealand. Murdoch realized that the animals would be easier to catch, examine, and release if they could tranquilize them from a distance. 

At the time Murdoch started testing his gun, he faced a challenge when he discovered that the only tranquilizer drugs available —curare and nicotine—were either derived from the traditional tranquilizer used for hunting by Amazon Indians, or a form of nicotine, both of which often caused death of wild animals because of their excessive physiological response to being darted. With the support of pharmaceutical companies, he developed new, safer tranquilizer drugs.

Murdoch officially trained as both a pharmacist and vet which, combined with his creative and mechanical mind, set him up to seek innovative solutions to some of the most common problems he encountered in his work. Using his background knowledge of repairing guns during World War Two and his interest in hunting, he went on to invent a range of rifles, darts, and pistols that could deliver a safe tranquilizer dose with precision. 

Patented in 1959, the gun was an instant success and is now a standard tool of wildlife management. 

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