Torvaianica - Pomezia (Roma), Italy

Approaching the Health and Wellbeing of Marine Mammals Under Human Care

when 1 February 2024 - 5 February 2024
language English
duration 1 week
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 500

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:

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

Course leader

Prof. Paolo Baragli

Target group

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.

Course aim

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.

Fee info

EUR 500: tuition fees

Register for this course
on course website