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Asia Trail Animal Keeper Internships

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

Learning Objectives: 

  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. Understand 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
  • Present a short summary of the project to Asia Trail staff at the end of the internship

Applicants must be at least a junior in college and currently pursuing or have a bachelor’s degree in a related field. They m ust have experience working around animals in a zoo or similar setting. Intern should possess strong communication skills and be  able to engage within a team environment with staff, other interns and volunteers. Applicants must enjoy working outdoors in all weather conditions and be in good physical condition (able to stand for long periods of time, stoop, climb and lift at least 50 pounds). Interns will be subject to fingerprinting, must pass a background check and 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.
The intern will make his or her own housing arrangements in the Washington, D.C., area.
The Smithsonian's National Zoo and the Smithsonian Institution do not provide free parking to interns.
Term of appointment: 

In 2018, there will be two internship sessions. Each session will last for approximately 4 ½ months. Session 1 will run from March to July and Session 2 will run from July to November. Exact start and end dates of each session are flexible and will be negotiated once an applicant has been selected. Please be sure to note your availability in the application.

Interns must be available 40 hours per week (5 days a week, 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.), often including weekends.

The application deadline for Session 1 is Dec. 15, 2017.

The application deadline for Session 2 is Feb. 20, 2018.

Washington DC
Internship Category: 
Animal Programs
How to Apply: 

There is currently 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: 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 – 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.