Wild Animal Health

In London

Price on request
  • Typology


  • Location


  • Duration

    1 Year


Equip graduates with: A solid foundation in the principles governing wild animal biological, science, veterinary interventions in wildlife, wild animal management and the surveillance, epidemiology , control and prevention of wildlife disease. Appropriate clinical veterinary skills for the physical and chemical restraint, diagnosis and treatment of captive and free-living wild animals.
Suitable for: Veterinary specialists and general scientists seeking to specialise in particular aspects of veterinary science.




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Royal College Street, NW1 0TU


On request

To take into account

Applications are invited from candidates with a degree from a recognised veterinary school. We are keen to see evidence of relevant work experience in a zoo, wildlife rehabilitation centre or wildlife hospital. English Requirements: We require all students to have a good level of English. If your first language is not English you will be required to take either IELTS or TOEFL. The scores that we require are 7.0 in IELTS or 93 in TOEFL (internet-based test).

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Course programme

This world-class specialist Masters course has produced over 120 graduates since its inception in 1994. It provides qualified veterinarians with a depth of knowledge of the management of wild animals and the epidemiology, treatment and control of disease.

Over the last 30 years, interventions, for reasons of health, welfare and the conservation, of free-living wild animals have been undertaken with increasing frequency. Specialist veterinary expertise is required in order to assess and control the risk of accidental disease introduction to wildlife.

Emerging infectious diseases are also recognised as a serious hazard both for wild animals, and for the domestic animal and human populations that interact with these species. In addition, a large number of wild animal species are kept in captivity; as pets, in zoos and in laboratories, which has led to an increased demand for specialist skills and knowledge.

Programme Structure

Term One

Module A: Foundation Course in Wild Animal Health

  • Introduction: impact of diseases on wildlife populations; vertebrate taxonomy; allometry and scaling; introduction to molecular biology.
  • Population Dynamics, Genetics and Evolution: population cyclicity and growth; wildlife population monitoring; age structure and demography; population genetics; evolution of life histories; inbreeding depression; theory of population persistence and extinction.
  • Biology, Management and Conservation of Wild Animals: diversity in anatomy and physiology; principles of management in captivity and in the wild of a range of vertebrate taxa (including behavioural and economic considerations); ‘artificial' reproductive techniques; organisation of zoo programmes for ex situ conservation; welfare of captive and free-living wildlife; management of free-living wildlife
  • Nutrition: energy requirements and their prediction; requirements for other nutrients; nutrition and feeding of neonates.
  • Legal and Ethical Aspects: legal and ethical aspects of veterinary interventions in wildlife.
  • Sustainable Utilisation of Wildlife: use of wildlife as a resource for local communities and implications for the control of diseases in wildlife.

Module B: Epidemiology and Statistics

  • Epidemiology: principles of epidemiology (including the use of computer software to assist in the study of the spread and control of disease).
  • Statistics: an introduction to statistical procedures and their application in the interpretation of diagnostic, field and experimental study data.

Term Two

Module C: Non-Infectious Diseases

  • Nutritional Diseases: major nutritional diseases of captive wild animals (including epidemiology, pathology, diagnosis, treatment and control).
  • Toxin-related Diseases: diseases caused by environmental contaminants (e.g. organochlorines, heavy metals), toxicoses of captive wild animals (including epidemiology, pathology, diagnosis, treatment and control).
  • Miscellaneous Infectious and Non-infectious Diseases.
  • Reproductive Disorders.

Module D: Infectious Diseases and Disease Investigation

  • Immunology: an update on new developments in the field of immunology relevant to the diagnosis and pathogenesis of disease.
  • Infectious Diseases: infectious diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites and other agents in captive and/or freeliving vertebrate animals (including epidemiology, pathology, diagnosis, treatment and control).
  • Wildlife Disease Investigation: national and international approaches to wildlife disease investigation and surveillance; field investigations; clinical pathology; post-mortem techniques; collection, handling and packaging of samples.

Term Three

Module E: Therapeutics, Imaging and Preventative Medicine

  • Antibiotic and fluid therapy, diagnostic techniques (including radiography, ultrasonography, laparoscopy) and preventative medicine in collections of captive wild animals. Euthanasia of ectotherms.

Module F: Restraint (Including Anaesthesia) and Aspects of Mammalian and Avian Surgery

  • Physical and Chemical Restraint and Anaesthesia of Non-Domesticated Animals: principles and practice of physical and chemical restraint of animals of various taxa.
  • Aspects of Avian and Reptilian Surgery: principles and practice of avian and reptilian surgery, surgical sexing, soft tissue surgery, fracture repair.


Each student will be required to undertake an individual research project, and to submit a typewritten report not exceeding 10,000 words in the form of a literature review and a scientific paper suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. The project will encompass a practical study on an approved aspect of wild animal health. The project may be undertaken at any place approved by the Institute/College with the guidance of a course supervisor.


The course is assessed by four written papers, course work (assignments and casebook), an individual research project report and an oral examination for all candidates, irrespective of their performance in other parts of the course.


1 year, full-time.

Additional information

Career opportunities: Graduates go on to work with captive and free-living wild animals as clinicians, pathologists, epidemiologists, academics and senior management in zoological collections, national parks, universities and government departments worldwide. Others continue to work towards a PhD or DVetMed, either with the RVC or at another leading research institute.
Price on request