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Approaching the Health and Wellbeing of marine Mammals under human Care

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NOTICE: the Winter School has to be cancelled for this Winter 2023.

Should it be held in 2024, new dates and new application deadline will be published in October 2023.

The Winter School "Approaching the Health and wellbeing of marine mammals under human care" starts from the consideration that unconventional animal species, such as marine mammals (Tursiops truncatus - bottlenose dolphin, Zalophus californianus - California sea lion, Otaria flavescens - Patagonian sea lion, Phoca vitulina - common seal, and Halichoerus grypus - gray seal), often do not find proper space within Veterinary Medicine courses, and this is despite the fact that the veterinarian plays a major role in the preservation and care of marine mammals in controlled environments, such as those housed in Zoological Gardens and Aquariums.

The course will explain how to approach and manage marine mammals, aimed at the subsequent learning of basic clinical procedures and diagnostic investigations commonly used in these species.
In the Winter School, 5th-year students of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Physicians will have the opportunity to learn in detail how basic clinical examination and diagnostics are carried out and at the same time how to manage unconventional animals kept under human care in Zoos.

The course will be divided into 5 modules:

  1. Acquisition of the basics of physiology, functional anatomy and ethology of marine mammals (Cetaceans, Pinnipeds)
  2. Veterinary management and medical training of marine mammals in a controlled environment
  3. Basic clinical examination and management of the reproductive aspect in the bottlenose dolphin
  4. Main diagnostic aids, both instrumental and non-instrumental
  5. Husbandry and regulatory aspects

The first module (6 hours) will provide the basics of physiology, basic functional anatomy and ethology, which are essential for the other modules of the course and the acquisition of subsequent skills.
With the second module (6 hours), preventive medicine and medical training in marine mammals will be explored, focusing on skills for veterinary management of the animal in a controlled environment. The module will be carried out in cooperation with trainers, whose work is necessary to acquire the full cooperation of animals in veterinary medical procedures.
The third module (6 hours) will show how to apply the scheme of the basic clinical examination (history, general and special physical examination) to these animals. Students will learn how the veterinarian approaches the animal for the collection of basic clinical parameters and how to perform the manual skills necessary to collect them. The student will learn the techniques of specimen collection and cytological and blood investigation in these species.
In the fourth module (6 hours) the student will learn how to use the main instrumental diagnostic investigations (ultrasonography, radiography, endoscopy) used in these species.
The last module (6 hours) will cover general environmental management techniques to ensure the maintenance of animal welfare conditions, along with current legislation.

The course will be based on an interactive program in which lectures and practical visualization of the topics on animals and on video lectures will alternate, depending on the topic covered. 
Interaction between the course participants (Veterinarians/Last Year Veterinary Students) and the animals will be handled in accordance with current legislation.

The course will be held at Zoomarine spa, in Torvaianica – Pomezia (Roma).


In recent years, professional opportunities for veterinary physicians have expanded to include so-called unconventional animal species, for which the student or recent graduate often has to create for himself or herself a path of experience and skill acquisition subsequent to and independent of the normal course of study. The purpose of this winter school is to provide the basic scientific skills necessary for the veterinarian to approach the clinical work and health management of marine mammals.

Who can apply

EU and Non-EU students.
Students enrolled in the 5th academic year of the master’s degree in Veterinary Sciences, as well as students with a Master’s Degree in Veterinary Sciences, PhD students and veterinarians.



Program Intensity



Admission Requirements

EU and Non-EU students of the 5th academic year of the master’s degree in Veterinary Sciences must have successfully taken the basic exams (anatomy, physiology, microbiology, parasitology, pharmacology, and general pathology), the exams in pathological anatomy, infectious diseases and parasitic diseases.

They should also have taken the exams in medical pathology and semeiotics, surgical pathology and semeiotics, laboratory, and imaging diagnostics.

The course is also open to those who have already completed a master’s degree in Veterinary Sciences (such as PhD students and veterinarians).


  • The maximum number of participants is set to 20
  • The Winter School will be activated with at least 15 participants

Required Documents

  • Identity Document (*PASSPORT in case you are a foreign student*)
  • Enrolment Form 
  • Curriculum Vitae

All the documents must be in pdf format, in order to upload them on the portal when required (See the "How to apply" page)




500 Euro

Pay fees by Debit/Credit Card or PayPal online using the following form filling it with all the required data:

PagoPA - Payment Form 


  • International students without Italian Tax Code: please tick the box 'Anonymous' in order to disable the field 'Italian personal ID/VAT number'.
  • Please type your NAME and SURNAME next to the pre-filled text of the field 'Reason'
  • Please pay only after receiving the admission letter


13 - 17 February 2023

Application Deadline

10 January 2023


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Ultima modifica: Gio 12 Gen 2023 - 15:16

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