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Animal Welfare Science in Animal Management Internship

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

Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (NZCBI) is providing an opportunity for interns to gain experience in the field of animal welfare and management by participating in research and animal management activities (including, but not limited to, animal behavior observation, animal care support, data collection, analysis and presentation, etc.) The successful applicant will work primarily within the newly renovated Bird House to learn how animals are acclimating to new exhibits, social environments and animal management practices. This position will be overseen by the Animal Welfare & Research Curator and work closely with experts in ornithology.

The intern will gain experience in the field of animal behavior and welfare research in direct connection to animal management practices. Specifically, understanding data collection methodology and how to balance it with animal management activities (participating in and providing feedback to staff) and becoming familiar with the basic analyses of a behavioral research project.

Learning Objectives: 
  • Learn and follow safety guidelines of animal care teams
  • Learn how to identify different species and individuals housed together
  • Become informed on basic research methodology (in relation to this study)
  • Learn how to collect data with ZooMonitor, a research software program
  • Participate in animal care discussions and activities
  • Learn how to balance the needs of animal management and research activities
  • Learn how to share feedback learned with animal care staff
  • Learn how to manage the process of data collection while on public display (balancing the needs of a research project with the needs of the visiting public)
  • Participate in basic analyses

Smithsonian interns are subject to fingerprinting, must pass a background test, and must have a current negative TB test (available at NZCBI) and proof of current tetanus vaccination.

All duties will occur in a dynamic zoo setting, and the appointed intern will need to be a flexible team player. Safety protocols for interns must be strictly adhered to at all times.

Successful applicants will be at least a junior in college or hold a university degree. Strong preference will be given to those applicants who have experience working on previous behavioral research projects, with Microsoft Excel, or with animal management. Must be able to work in outdoor environment in all weather conditions and be comfortable working in a team environment with staff, interns and volunteers.

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. Uniform shirts and a jacket will be provided. Interns must provide their own pants/shorts and shoes.
Washington DC
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. (The Zoo is accessible via mass transit.)
Term of appointment: 

Four months (mid-August through mid-December 2023). Intern(s) are expected to be on-site between two to five days per week which may include weekends and holidays – an intern’s schedule will be agreed upon with the intern and mentor prior to the start of the internship. Hours will be scheduled during the day when animal care staff are on-site at the Zoo (typically between 6:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.)

Application deadline(s): 
Sunday, July 16, 2023
Internship Category: 
Animal Programs
How to Apply: 

Send cover letter, resume, and contact information for two references to Dr. Betsy Herrelko (