Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



American Trail Keeper Internship

The Smithsonian's National Zoological Park provides the opportunity for interns to gain experience in the zoo keeping field by participating in daily animal keeper activities, which include but are not limited to husbandry, nutrition, enrichment, training, and visitor education. American Trail is seeking applicants for the summer 2014 semester internship. This area houses a diverse pinniped collection, wolves, river otters, beavers, and birds.

American Trail keeper and sea lion

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Assist animal keepers with feeding animals, cleaning animal and non-animal areas, diet preparation, training sessions behavioral observations, and other various tasks under supervision.
  • Provide formal and informal interpretive educational programs for visitors.
  • Help design and implement animal enrichment programs.
  • Learn and follow animal/keeper safety guidelines, operations, and polices.
  • Develop an educational or research project to complete during the internship.
  • Study and learn USDA and AZA guidelines, NZP directives, procedures and protocols and other related literature as assigned.


  • Must be at least a junior in college
  • Must have or currently be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a life science or related field
  • Must be available 40 hours a week, including weekends and holidays
  • Must have strong communication skills
  • Must be able to work in a team environment with staff, other interns, and a variety of volunteers.
  • Must be willing to work outdoors in all weather conditions.
  • Must be flexible and have a good sense of humor.
  • Must be in good physical condition, able to stand, stoop, climb, and lift at least 50 pounds.
  • Must be comfortable with public speaking on and off microphone.
  • Must be fingerprinted and pass a background check.
  • Must have a negative TB test.
  • Strong preference will be given to candidates with direct animal experience, a sincere interest in the field of zoo keeping, and who are comfortable snorkeling in a wetsuit (not provided) to clean pools.


This is an unpaid internship. College credit is offered if desired; intern is responsible for obtaining necessary approvals from their university. The intern will be responsible for all transportation costs and personal health insurance.


Rock Creek, Washington D.C.


The intern will make his or her own housing arrangements in the Washington, D.C. area.


The National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution do not provide free parking to interns. There is limited parking at SCBI in Front Royal, Virginia.

Term of Appointment

A three and a half month internship is available for spring (January 15 through April 30), summer (May 1 through August 15), and fall (September 1 through December 15). Start and end dates are flexible in order to coordinate with university and individual schedules.

Application Deadlines

  • Spring session: January through April. Applications must be submitted by October 15.
  • Summer session: May through August. Applications must be submitted by March 1.
  • Fall session: September through December. Applications must be submitted by June 15.

To Apply

To apply, go to: https://solaa.si.edu/solaa/SOLAAHome.html” S elect "New to SOLAA? Create Account Here" complete the information to create an account.  You will see a screen where you select the type of appointment you are interested in.

  • Type of appointment: “Internship”
  • Unit of interest: “National Zoological Park”
  • Program: “National Zoological Park Internship Program”
  • Project: “Rock Creek—American Trail.”

Your application is considered complete when you hit “Submit” and when your references have been received (your SOLAA submitted application and references must be received by the deadline as noted above).

Information that will be requested (in SOLAA) includes:

  • Basic personal information
  • Professional resume or CV
  • A one-page statement of your interest in pursuing this position. The statement should mention relevant experience, career goals, your reasons for wanting this internship, and what you hope to gain from the experience. Your statement is very important during application evaluations.
  • College or university and current academic status
  • Degrees held or expected
  • Two letters of reference (One must be from a current or a former supervisor)
  • Schedule of availability

For additional information

Email Chelsea Grubb regarding the American Trail internship. Phones calls will NOT be accepted.