Bachelor in Animal Care


Program Description

Programme structure

Attendance in 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 is presented in the following video:


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

Career opportunities

Graduates work in private and public organisations where management, health, welfare and reservation of animals are driven by a modern and international approach. Work opportunities include taking care of animals in a controlled environment and assisting experts in the monitoring of animals intended for recreational, research, educational, sport and assistance activities.

Entry requirements

Applicants must have attended school for at least 12 years.
Applicants ending their secondary studies in a country where a university admission test is compulsory must also submit a certificate attesting that they have passed it (i.e. Concurso Vestibular, Gao Kao, Pruebas de Selectividad, Veveosi Prosvasis, etc.).

Applicants must have:

    • Good command of Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Analytical and Logic skills
    • as an optional requirements, the SAT score report (Scholastic Attitude Test only; the optional Essay is not required) with a score greater or equal 50% of the score scale would be an asset. Make sure to check well in advance the available date for the SAT Test in the official website

All candidates will be required to take an entry interview with the Programme selection commitee.

Language requirements

English language: B2 minimum level

Last updated Jan 2020

About the School

The University of Padova is one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious seats of learning; it is a multi-disciplinary university that aims to provide its students with both professional training and a ... Read More

The University of Padova is one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious seats of learning; it is a multi-disciplinary university that aims to provide its students with both professional training and a solid cultural background. A qualification from the University of Padova is a symbol of having achieved an ambitious objective, one that is recognised and coveted by both students and employers alike. Read less