Animal care - a.y. 2019/20

The course aims at providing knowledge, skills and competences to develop qualified human resources, specialised in animal care, husbandry and welfare, able to operate in international different contexts.


Level: Bachelor

Field of study: L-38 - Zoology

Degree awarded: Bachelor's degree in Animal Care

Start date: October 2019

Location: Agripolis Campus-Legnaro (PD)

Available places: European candidates or non-European candidates residing in Italy: 35; non-European candidates residing outside Italy: 8 (1 for candidates joining the Marco Polo Project)

  Course description

The course targets Italian and foreign students interested in the field of animal care, in national and international contexts, offering a unique educational pathway in the Mediterranean area of Europe.

The specific learning objectives meet the requirements of professionals who can be then employed in companies, private and public organizations in which the management, health, welfare and the preservation of animals is conducted in accordance to a modern and international approach. 
The main purpose of the international undergraduate degree course in Animal Care is the achievement of knowledge, skills and competences in order to develop qualified human resources, specialized in animal care and welfare, in different sectors but mainly in relation to an individual view of the animal.

The programme is intended for people who aim at taking professional care of animals and protect their wellbeing. Please note that the student might deal with animals in poor welfare situations.

Multidisciplinary field experience, including visit to zoological parks, rehabilitation centres, research facilities, will be organized during the course of study to introduce students to the practical activity. Furthermore, the second semester of the third year will be dedicated to a compulsory practical training. Students will work at affiliated structures under the direct supervision of an expert in animal care.

  Course structure

Attendance to teaching activities is mandatory: to take the final exam, the student must have attended at least 50% of the lecture hours and at least 75% of the laboratory hours.

Courses of the 3rd year are organised in study plans focused on the wild animal’s and the lab animal’s care. Specificity of the two study plans are presented in this video: how to choose the curriculum.


Bioethics and legislation

Analyze, understand and apply the relevant laws on the welfare of wild and laboratory animals. Learn and develop skills to understand and discuss the ethical dimensions of animal care and welfare in all different fields.

Applied chemistry and biochemistry

The development of essential theoretical and basic practical knowledge and skills in general and organic chemistry and biochemistry, enabling students to follow the subsequent courses.

Applied mathematics and physics

To develop theoretical and practical knowledge and skills enabling students to deal with theoretical and formal problems. To understand the foundation basis of calculus, physics and data management systems.

Animal biology and genetics

Learn the concepts of general biology and genetics necessary for the understanding of topics related to the management of animal genetic resources. Acquire the capability to recognize the major animal groups, and understand the evolutionary processes that generated the current diversity of phyla. Acquire knowledge on control of inbreeding and preservation of genetic variability in small groups of animals.

Comparative animal anatomy

The purpose of the course is to give students a useful knowledge of apparatus and organs of the most common species of wild and laboratory animals. Students will be able to describe and identify as well as understand relationships between organs and the adaptive changes they have undergone during evolution.



Comparative animal physiology

To learn the basis of the circulatory, renal, respiratory, endocrine, digestive, reproductive systems physiology in the different vertebrate classes. To understand the main regulatory mechanisms of the oxygen distribution, water and electrolyte balance, acid/base balance. Students will acquire theoretical and practical tools to understand the physiological animals’ adaptation to environmental changes and stressors.

Physiological basis of pain, suffering and distress and general ethology

To develop theoretical and practical knowledge and skills enabling students to recognize pain and distress in vertebrates. To understand the foundation basis of vertebrate behavior. Students will acquire theoretical and practical tools useful in addressing animal ethological needs and animal training.

Principles of prevention and control of transmissible animal diseases

The course will provide students with basic knowledge of the main features of virus, bacteria and parasites agents of animal diseases and zoonoses. Students will also acquire basic principles of epidemiology, prevention and biosecurity applied to animal transmissible diseases and zoonoses. Basic general aspects of main infectious and parasitic diseases, even of zoonotic nature, of laboratory and wild captive animals will be presented.

Animal husbandry and welfare

According to the principles of the “5 freedoms”, students will be address to understand what Animal Welfare means. Moreover, they will develop knowledge and skills allowing them to identify the needs of the animals in order to improve their living environment (housing system, environmental conditions, cleanliness) and management. Moreover, they will be skilled to identify rearing conditions that can cause pain and distress and develop strategy to remove them. To develop theoretical and practical knowledge and skills enabling students to recognize the environmental impact of animal husbandry and individuate possible control strategies.

Basics of animal nutrition and feeding

To develop theoretical knowledge on the basis of animal nutrition in vertebrates. The course will provide students with opportunities to get knowledge and practical tools useful to assess energy and nutrients requirements of laboratory and wild animal species, feed evaluation and feeding management.

General concepts in pharmaco-toxicology

Provide students basic concepts on pharmacology (e.g., pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics) and toxicology (e.g., cellular and target-organ toxicity, mutagenesis, carcinogenesis and reproductive toxicology). Provide students basic concepts on anesthesiology, equipment for anesthesia and monitoring, perioperative management, anesthetic emergency management and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

General pathology and laboratory techniques

To develop theoretical knowledge on the pattern of reactions of animal organisms to injuries and practical skills to perform the main diagnostic ancillary techniques.
To understand the causes of animal diseases and the mechanisms of cellular and tissue damage and reaction. Students will be able to understand how animals show sign of disease and to follow the main diagnostic ancillary techniques.

Comparative animal reproduction, neonatology and breeding techniques

To develop skills and knowledge throughout all the sequence of reproductive events in the male and female gender, with emphasis to differences among target species of vertebrates.
Student would also be trained to newborn care and management, neonatal resuscitation, hand rearing techniques, growth evaluation, first care and aid of orphaned animals.
Student would be qualified to assist veterinarians in clinical and surgical procedures and techniques useful in the control of animal reproduction and newborn care.


Wild animal care in clinical settings

This course is focused on wild animal behaviour and zoological medicine, addressing the individual and herd medical management. The course incorporates clinical settings, principles of veterinary internal medicine, principles of newborn assistance, and applies them to wild animals in natural and captive environments. Students will also acquire theoretical and practical tools useful in assisting veterinarians during clinical and surgical procedures in wildlife, implementing veterinarian indications for management of wild animals during trauma and in critical condition, provide basic evaluation and first aid to different species of vertebrates.

Comparative ecology and ethology

To provide knowledge on freshwater, marine and terrestrial  ecosystems. and to gain awareness of species as parts of integrated ecological systems. To recognize the relationships between environmental changes and biological responses of components of ecological systems at different scale
To recognize relevant behavioral features of the wild species, which could affect their management. To develop theoretical and practical knowledge and skills enabling students to recognize problems in adapting to the provided environment in wild animals and to address them. Students will acquire theoretical and practical tools useful in addressing wild animals ethological needs and training.

Wild animal husbandry, management and welfare

Students will be able to: transfer the knowledge on the requirements of wild species in nature to the captivity condition, in order to maximize their welfare and health; acquire basic skills on handling, transport requirements, containment methods and enclosure design and management for animals belonging to different taxa; interpret and use cost-accounting models widely used in private and public enterprises directly involved in the management and care of animals, as well as to understand key issues relating to the more common tools of business management control.

Principle of post mortem technics and tissue sampling

To develop theoretical and practical knowledge and skills enabling students to recognize presence of main infectious diseases in wild animals as well as possible nutritional and management problems. To evaluate any possible interaction with human activities (i.e. hunting, killing, mistreatment). To apply specific protocols for samples and evidence collections and preservation.
Students will acquire the capability to execute a dissection and/or necropsy aimed to collect information, biological and pathological data as well as samples for ancillary exams. Elements to perform dissections aimed to preserve skeletons will be also explained.


Laboratory animal husbandry, management and welfare

Through this course students are expected to: acquire theoretical and practical knowledge, skills and tools to manage husbandry and welfare of species (among rodents, lagomorphs, birds and fish) involved in scientific research under laboratory conditions; understand the ontogenesis, function and the determinants of the behaviour of species involved in scientific research (rodents, birds and fishes – example species will be given for each taxa); develop theoretical and practical knowledge and skills enabling them to identify normal and abnormal behaviours expressed by species involved in scientific research; acquire theoretical and practical tools useful in addressing laboratory animal ethological needs and training.

Comparative pathology

The aims of the course are i) to briefly describe the main animal models (e.g. mouse, rat, zebrafish) and how to obtain them (spontaneous vs induced models, transgenic models) and ii) to outline the proper procedures for assisting and performing a necropsy in laboratory animal species. Specific theoretical knowledge and practical skills will be provided to enable students collection of specimen performed avoiding the occurrence of artifacts or post mortem change in the collected tissues, collection of samples appropriated for the intended purpose (i.e. histology, cytology, microbiology, virology, cell cultures, banked tissue, RNA and DNA samples) and adequate in number and amount to provide valid results.

Laboratory animal care in clinical settings and pain assessment

The course provides students:
- basic concept on laboratory animal health status monitoring, clinical management, practical handling, drugs and fluids administration, elements of biomedical imaging, record keeping and occupational health and safety. Part of the course will focus on pain assessment, pain score systems, pain management, emergency care, humane endpoints and euthanasia.
- an introductory but solid background to basic surgical principles and procedures, to establish basic surgical skills, to gain knowledge and skills about care of surgical environment and equipment, to acquire basic knowledge about the most common used surgical models.
- basic concepts on in vivo methodologies used in in vivo pharmaco-toxicological preclinical studies. Give students an overview of alternative in vitro methods.

Statistics of experimental designs and the three Rs issues

Students are expected to acquire theoretical knowledge and practical skills to assist in the development and management of experimental designs used in scientific research involving the use of animals. Students will learn basic principles to design studies to be scientifically and statistically valid while coping with the goal of reducing the numbers of animals used to obtain information of a given amount and precision. Practical skills will be focused on the ability of managing experimental data, appropriate use of statistical analysis procedures and sound interpretation of statistical result

Detailed information on course units

  Career opportunities

The work opportunities vary depending on the area considered: from the care of wildlife in a controlled environment, for educational, research and preservation purposes, to that of coadjutor in support of veterinarians or expert in the monitoring and care of animals intended for recreational, research, educational, sports and assistance activities. In addition, the training received will allow graduates to connect and integrate the actions promoted by more specialized professionals (veterinarian, biologist, zoologist, etc.) who work in the field of animal care.

  Entry requirements

Access to this degree course is granted on the basis of the following requirements:

Early Selection (December 2018 - February 2019)

1. High school diploma or other equivalent title gained abroad

2. SAT score report with a score greater or equal to 1500 (50%) for the score scale up to 2400 or a score greater or equal to 1000 (50%) for the score scale up to 1600 (newly revised SAT); this certification is required by 28 February and mandatory only for EU citizens and non-EU citizens legally residing in Italy. Non-EU citizens not residing in Italy may opt for a Skype interview with the assessment commission, if they haven’t taken the SAT test. However, priority will be given to candidates with a SAT test score.

Should there be any available places after this selection, a new admission notice will be published in May 2019.

Summer Selection (May 2019 - August 2019)

1. High school diploma or other equivalent title gained abroad

2. A test in English to evaluate candidate's general knowledge. The applicants must be in possession of an adequate initial preparation including a satisfactory familiarity with: Mathematics and Physics; Biology and general Chemistry; English language (B2 minimum level). Information about the types of evaluation, on evaluation dates and preparation advice is available in the Call for applications. In the event that the student is not in possession of a language certificate corresponding to B2 level, the language level will be evaluated through a placement test. If the candidate is an English mother tongue speaker or has attended upper secondary school or a degree course in English, no language evaluation is necessary.

  Language requirements

English language: B2 minimum level


For general information on application procedures, please check How to apply.

Please read carefully the Call for Applications before applying online. Guidelines for application are available below.

The payment of the application fee (€30,00) is a compulsory step to complete your application. The application fee is non-refundable. If you wish to apply for more than one programme, you need to pay the application fee for each course you are applying for. Guidelines are available below.

  Tuition fees

Information on 2019/20 fees is not yet available, but the amounts will be more or less be the same of 2018/19. Please check:

The total amount (€2600,00 for a.y. 2018/19) can be significantly waived based on your “Equivalent Economic Status Index – ISEE”. For further information on how to obtain your ISEE and other income-based reductions, see Funding and fees > Key Documents.

  Scholarships and fee-waivers

The University of Padova offers different types of scholarships and fee-waivers to international students.

For detailed information: