Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo




Smithsonian's National Zoological Park provides the opportunity for interns to gain experience in the zoo keeping field by participating in daily animal keeper activities including animal husbandry, nutrition, enrichment and training, and visitor education. Asia Trail, which features a variety of Asian carnivores, is seeking applicants for consideration.


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

Through this internship, interns will:

  • Learn alongside professional animal care staff basic animal husbandry including cleaning exhibits, preparing food and enrichment activities, and assisting with environmental enhancements.
  • Learn formal and informal interpretive educational programs for visitors.
  • Learn how to develop and implement animal enrichment programs.
  • Learn and follow animal/keeper safety guidelines, operations, and polices.
  • Learn USDA and AZA guidelines, NZP directives, procedures and protocols and other related literature.
  • Develop or select a project to complete during the internship.
  • At the end of the internship, present a short summary of your project to Asia Trail staff


  • Must be at least a junior in college and currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in a related field.
  • Must have experience working around animals in a zoo or similar setting.
  • Must have strong communication skills.
  • Must be able to engage within a team environment with staff, other interns and volunteers.
  • Must enjoy working outdoors in all weather conditions.
  • Must be in good physical condition – able to stand for long periods of time, stoop, climb, and lift at least 50 pounds.
  • Will be subject to fingerprinting and must pass a background check.
  • Must have a current negative TB test.
  • Strong preference will be given to those with a sincere desire in becoming an animal keeper.


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.


Beginning in 2016, the Asia Trail Animal Keeper Internship will run on a rolling schedule and interns will be accepted as positions become available throughout the year, with no specific application deadline. Each session lasts approximately 3½ months. Exact dates of the session are flexible and will be negotiated once an applicant has been selected. Please be sure to note your availability in the application, as applications will be pulled based on matches in applicant availability and timing of open positions. Interns must be able to work 40 hours a week (5 days a week, 6:30am-3:00pm), often including weekends.


Currently there is no deadline for applications for this internship. Submit your complete application, noting your availability, and applications will be pulled when intern positions matching that availability become open.

To apply, go to: https://solaa.si.edu/solaa/SOLAAHome.html. Select"New to SOLAA? Create Account Here" and complete the information to create an account.

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
  • College or university and current academic status
  • Degrees held or expected
  • Two letters of reference (One must be from a current or a former supervisor)
  • 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 – Asia Trail."

IMPORTANT: Your application is considered complete when you hit “Submit.” Please be sure all required documents, including references, are included before you submit your application. Only complete applications will be considered.

For Additional Information

Contact Internships Coordinator