Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Small Mammal House Enrichment Internship

Smithsonian's National Zoological Park provides the opportunity for interns to gain experience in enrichment and other husbandry-related tasks at Small Mammals. The Intern 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 and shadowing daily keeper duties.


This is an unpaid internship opportunity wherein the intern will support the Department of Animal Programs-Small Mammals.

Through this internship, interns will:

  • Learn to design, construct, and implement environmental enrichment.
  • Learn to 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 enrichment.
  • Learn basic animal husbandry including cleaning exhibits and preparing food alongside animal care staff.
  • Learn formal and informal interpretive educational programs for visitors.
  • Learn and follow animal/keeper safety guidelines, operations, and polices.
  • Support will be given to any intern who wishes to pursue publications of their project results at the end of their internship.


  • Must be able 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.
  • Must be willing to devote to 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.


A three-and-a-half month internship is available for the Fall (August 15-December 30) and Spring (January 1-May 15). Interns must be able to devote 20 to 30 hours per week. Reasonable exceptions may be made in order to coordinate with university schedules.


Spring session (January - May):

Applications accepted between August 1 and August 31, 2015

Fall session (August - December):

Applications accepted between April 1 and April 30, 2016

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

Select "New to SOLAA? Create Account Here"

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
  • 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.

Once you create your account and provide the information above, you will see a screen where you select the type of appointment you are interested in. You will select:

  • Type of appointment: "Internship"
  • Unit of interest: "National Zoological Park"
  • Program: "National Zoological Park Internship Program"
  • Project: "Rock Creek – Small Mammals."

IMPORTANT: Your application is considered complete when you hit "Submit." Your SOLAA submitted application with references must be received by the deadlines as noted above.

For Additional Information

Contact Internships Coordinator