Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Small Mammal House Enrichment Internship

Providing enrichment for the myriad of animals at Small Mammals can be a daunting task. Enrichment at Small Mammals must target species-specific behaviors for more than 30 species of mammals including carnivores, rodents, and primates. Interns will assist staff in developing new enrichment items and protocols while conducting a related project.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • The intern’s main duties will focus on the design, construction, and implementation of environmental enrichment. Interns will research and create new enrichment for the Zoo's Small Mammal House residents. All enrichment must fall within established safety guidelines for each species. Behavioral observations will be essential, in order to evaluate the success of all primate enrichment.
  • Assist keepers with daily exhibit cleaning, food preparation, and general facility maintenance.
  • Provide formal and informal interpretive educational programs for Zoo visitors.
  • Learn and follow all safety protocols and policies of the unit.
  • Though not required, support will be given to any intern who wishes to pursue publications of their project results at the end of their internship.


  • Strong preference will be given to undergraduate students or recent graduates pursuing a career in a related field.
  • Ability to work both independently and in a team environment with staff and volunteers
  • Strong communication and public speaking skills
  • Ability to stand, stoop, climb, and lift up to 50 pounds
  • Flexibility and a good sense of humor
  • Availability to work a regular schedule, including weekends and holidays
  • Upon acceptance and one month prior to arriving for work, the intern will be required to provide documentation for a current negative TB test and tetanus shot. The intern must also pass a background check prior to his or her start date.


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

A three-and-a-half month internship is available for the fall (September 15 through December 30) and spring (January 1 through April 15). Interns will work 20 to 30 hours per week. Reasonable exceptions may be made in order to coordinate with university schedules.

Application Deadlines

  • Spring session: January through April. Applications accepted between August 1 and August 31.
  • Fall session: September through December. Applications accepted between April 1 and April 30.
  • There is no summer session available for this internship.
  • Applicants will be notified of their acceptance at least five weeks before their start date.

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—Small Mammal 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:

  • 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

Questions about this internship should be sent to Ashton Shaffer. Send general internship questions to Athena Mylonas.