Great Ape Behavioral Research Internship

Studying and understanding primate behavior is essential to the overall assessment of their welfare. Currently, the National Zoo’s primate research group is studying regurgitation and reingestion (R/R) behavior in gorillas and orangutans, and how it may be related to diet, feeding techniques, husbandry, and activity. Interns will observe and collect data on R/R behavior daily under different conditions.  Data analysis and progress reporting will also be required.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • The intern's main duties will focus on behavioral research in either gorillas or orangutans.
  • Collection of data related to regurgitation and reingestion (R/R) behavior, under different experimental conditions.
  • Secondarily, interns may be asked to assist with husbandry duties such as cleaning animal enclosures, preparing enrichment, monitoring the O Line, and general facility maintenance.
  • Learn and follow all safety protocols and policies of the Primate Unit.

Required Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree (or current student) in a related field such as zoology, biology, anthropology, wildlife science, psychology, etc.
  • Experience in conducting behavioral research, and knowledge of research techniques preferred, but not required
  • Ability to work a regular schedule, three to four days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Ability to work both independently and in a team environment with staff and volunteers
  • Professional and self-motivated
  • Upon acceptance, interns will be required to provide documentation for a negative TB test within six months of start date as well as a current tetanus shot.


This is an unpaid, volunteer position.

Term of Appointment

Interns should be able to commit to six months minimum. We are currently recruiting applicants able to start November 2012.


Washington, D.C.

Application Deadline

October 26, 2012

Application Instructions

Please send the following materials in one mailing to the primate unit by email baniaa@si.edu.

  • Cover sheet including name, address, phone number, email address, and schedule of availability.
  • Resume or CV summarizing education (including current academic status), employment, and research experience.
  • A one page statement describing 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.
  • List of three references (at least one academic), and their contact information. Please also indicate how long you have known each and in what capacity.