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Animal Behavior Internship

This internship has closed. To see open and upcoming opportunities, visit the internships page.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, continues to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Spring and summer internships are on hold, and only applications for fall 2020 will be accepted at this time.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is offering a support internship to assist with ongoing research on rare and endangered species. Interns will receive training under the supervision of a research fellow in the fields of animal behavior and endocrinology (through Animal Care Sciences at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Center for Species Survival).

The Smithsonian is a world leader in the study of rare and endangered species. The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute faculty specializes in animal behavior and husbandry, reproductive physiology, endocrinology, cryobiology, embryonic/molecular biology and the tools associated with assisted reproduction. Staff scientists have pioneered important concepts in reproductive biology for threatened and endangered species and created new conservation tools, including new approaches for noninvasive monitoring of hormone profiles; artificial insemination; implementation of a “mobile laboratory research” unit; and databases to track cryopreserved biomaterials. More than 60 mammal, fish, coral, urchin, algal and bird species have benefited from this vast experience.

Learning Objectives: 

Intern will assist with and gain first-hand experience in:

  • Data entry, summarizing and data analyses
  • Inventory of research samples and supplies
  • Ex-situ conservation research, answering fundamental biological questions while working alongside experienced researchers
  • Refined ethological skills and resulting data collection
  • Aspects of interacting with behavioral observers
  • Skills related to the use of camera traps, GPS and accelerometers to monitor animal behavior

Activities will entail research both at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo (Washington, D.C.) and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (Front Royal, Virginia).


Completion of undergraduate coursework in related field of study, including at least two laboratory-based courses is required. Candidates should be efficient, organized and possess strong computer skills (must be proficient in Excel) and organizational skills that can be applied to data management.

Applicant must be able to travel to and from internship site, which will rotate between the Smithsonian's National Zoo and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and have flexible hours three to five days a week at varied locations.

Intern must be in good physical condition and able to lift at least 50 pounds. Individuals will be subject to fingerprinting and a background check and must have a negative TB test. A trial week is required prior to applicant acceptance into the program (this ensures that the internship activities are understood by the selectee).

This is an unpaid internship. Intern will be responsible for all transportation costs and personal health insurance.
Washington DC
No lodging is available, and individual is responsible for their own transportation.
The Smithsonian's 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: 

This is a six-month internship. Applicants must be able to intern flexible hours at least three to five days per week at varied locations, including both the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and occasionally the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. 

Start and end dates are flexible, but applications are generally reviewed for six month rotations throughout the year. Applications are accepted throughout the year for the following terms:

  • Spring/Summer (March 1 to Sept. 1)
  • Summer/Fall (May 1 to Nov. 1)
  • Fall/Winter (Oct. 1 to April 1)
  • Winter/Spring (Dec. 1 to June 1)
Internship Category: 
Animal Programs
How to Apply: 

To apply, go to Then, 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. 
  • 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: "Animal Behavior Internship"

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,