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.

Tasks for which interns will be responsible, to provide hands-on experience

  • 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.

Term of Appointment/Application Deadlines

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

  • Spring session runs January 15 to April 15. Applications must be submitted by November 1.
  • Summer session runs May 15 to August 15. Applications must be submitted by March 1.
  • Fall session runs 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

Go to https://solaa.si.edu to create an account in the Smithsonian On-Line Academic Appointment System. Go to Internship Opportunities section and submit application materials to the National Zoological Park Internship Program. When completing the application, select the project “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 deadline as noted above).

Information that will be requested (in SOLAA) includes:

  • Basic information
  • College or university and current academic status
  • Degrees held or expected
  • An essay stating your interest in pursuing this internship and expected outcomes
  • Transcripts (unofficial transcripts are acceptable)
  • Two letters of reference

For additional information

Questions about this internship should be directed to Eric Slovak, or general internship questions to Athena Mylonas.