Approaching the Health and Wellbeing of Marine Mammals Under Human Care (Winter School)

University of Pisa
4 days
Full time
Summer / Short course
On campus
New start date will be published in October 2023
Application deadline: New application deadline will be published in October 2023

About this program

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.

Approaching the Health and Wellbeing of Marine Mammals Under Human Care (Winter School)

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.

Admission requirements

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.

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).

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

Does this course require proof of English proficiency?

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Program content

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

Program delivery

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.

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About this institute

Summer Courses & Master Programs at University of Pisa, Italy

Established in 1343, the University of Pisa is an internationally-renown public institution, ranking among the top eight Italian universities and top 300 universities world-wide. The university has 20 departments with many high-level research centers, such as: Agriculture Astrophysics Computer science...

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Why study at University of Pisa

Founded in 1343, the University of Pisa is one of the most prestigious universities in Italy. Famous alumni of the University include Galileo Galilei, 3 Nobel prize winners and 2 Fields medalist.It is amongst the top 3 universities in Italy (ARWU).Nowadays the University of Pisa represents a prestigious modern center for teaching and advanced research.Pisa offers international students the unique opportunity to study and experience the richness of Italian history and culture in a beautiful and stimulating environment. Famous across the world for the Leaning Tower, almost all of its departments are located in the heart of the city. Its strategic geographical location, the international airport and the excellent rail connections offer the possibility of weekend trips to other parts of Italy and Europe.

The Foundation Course

A one-year programme taught exclusively in English, which bridges the gap between High School and University studies and it equips students with the appropriate academic grounding for an Italian degree at the University of Pisa.This programme is aimed at International students who have 11 or 10 years of schooling and have successfully completed High School and at American students who have not taken Advanced Placement (AP) courses during the last year of High School nor have attended 2 years of College

Summer Schools

Intensive academic courses for international students and also for graduates.They mostly last from 1 to 6 weeks and take place in an international context, with students and lecturers coming from various parts of the world and all lectures delivered in English.They are characterized by nonconventional teaching formats (workshops, tutorials, excursions, cultural events, business testimonials, etc.) and a multidisciplinary approach. Professors are experts in their areas and have a keen interest in what they do.Summer Schools meet strict academic regulations: each grants at least 3 ECTS credits and the participants who successfully pass the final exams will receive an official academic transcript.

Contact info

University of Pisa

Lungarno Pacinotti 43
56126 Pisa

Phone no: +39 050 221 2111

Message the school

Want to know more about Approaching the Health and Wellbeing of Marine Mammals Under Human Care (Winter School)? Fill out the following form and we'll pass your details on to a representative from the school, who will respond to your enquiry.


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