Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo




The Reptile Discovery Center (RDC) at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park is seeking an animal behavior intern for the fall and spring semesters. The RDC is seeking an intern to help observe, record and analyze animal behavior. This position requires a bachelor's degree in the biological sciences, good observation and communication skills, and a minimum of 8 hours a week.


This is an unpaid internship opportunity wherein the intern will support the Department of Animal Programs-Reptile Discovery Center.

Through this internship, interns will:

  • Learn by observing, recording and analyzing animal behavior
  • Learn alongside professional animal care staff basic animal husbandry including cleaning exhibits, preparing food, general facility maintenance, and assisting with environmental enhancements
  • Learn formal and informal interpretive educational programs for visitors.
  • Learn and follow all safety protocols and policies of the unit.
  • Learn USDA and AZA guidelines, NZP directives, procedures and protocols and other related literature.
  • Gain knowledge to pursue publications of their project results at the end of their internship.


  • Strong preference will be given to graduate 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
  • Must have a current negative TB test
  • Available to assist a regular schedule, that may include weekends and holidays


This is an unpaid internship. Special consideration will be given to applicants who receive college credit for internship. 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 Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution do not provide free parking to interns. There is limited parking at SCBI in Front Royal, VA.

Term of Appointment

A three- to four-month internship is available for the fall (Sep.-Dec. ) and spring (Jan.-May). Interns should be able to devote 8 to 25 hours per week. Reasonable exceptions may be made in order to coordinate with university or work schedules.

Application Deadlines

Fall session (September 15 through December 15)

Spring session (January 15 through May 15)

To Apply

To apply, go to: https://solaa.si.edu/solaa/SOLAAHome.html Select "New to SOLAA? Create Account Here" 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-Reptile Discovery Center"

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