Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Bird House Animal Management Internship, Keeper Aide Intern

The National Zoo provides the opportunity for interns to participate in daily animal management and keeper aide activities including visitor education.

There are three internship sessions during the year: spring, summer, and fall. Interns will work 25-40 hours a week (shifts start at 6:30 a.m.) in the Bird Unit, which features a large collection of exotic bird species.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Assist animal keepers with feeding, cleaning, exhibit preparation and renovation, plant care, and observing birds.
  • Provide formal and informal interpretive educational programs for visitors.
  • Help implement animal enrichment programs.
  • Learn and follow animal/keeper safety guidelines, operations, and polices.
  • Develop or select a project to complete during the internship. At the completion of the internship, present a short summary to Bird House staff.


  • Preference will be given to undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a career in a related field
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to work in a team environment with staff and other interns and volunteers
  • Must enjoy working outdoors in all weather conditions and be able to lift at least 50 pounds
  • A trial working day is required prior to applicant acceptance into the program. This assures that the internship activities are understood by the selectee and will meet their educational goals.


This is an unpaid internship. College credit is offered if desired; intern is responsible for obtaining necessary approvals from their university. 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

There are three internship sessions throughout the year: spring, summer, and fall.

Application Deadlines

  • Spring session: January 15 to April 15.

    Applications must be submitted by November 1.

  • Summer session: May 15 to August 15.

    Applications must be submitted by March 1.

  • Fall session: September 15 to December 15.

    Applications must be submitted by July 1.


This is an unpaid internship. Special consideration will be given to applicants who will receive college credit for this internship, though this is not a requirement.


Interns must make their own arrangements in the Washington, D.C., area. Parking is not provided by Smithsonian or the National Zoo to interns.

To Apply

To apply, go to: https://solaa.si.edu/solaa/SOLAAHome.html
Then select "New to SOLAA? Create Account Here"
When you complete the information to create an account, you will see a screen where you select the type of appointment you are interested in. You will select "Internship". Then you will select the unit you are interested in, "National Zoological Park." Then you will select the program you are interested in, "National Zoological Park Internship Program." Finally, once you begin completing the application, you will indicate the project (equivalent to department) you are interested in, “Rock Creek—Bird House."

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 deadlines as noted above).

Information that will be requested (in SOLAA) includes:

  • Basic information
  • Resume or CV summarizing education (including current academic status) and employment experience
  • 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.
  • Transcripts from your current and/or previous institutions. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
  • Two letters of reference, including at least one academic reference
  • Schedule of availability

For Additional Information

Contact Internships Coordinator