The Zoo is open! Entry passes are required for all guests, including infants. Effective July 30, all visitors ages 2 and older are required to wear a mask in all indoor spaces at the Zoo, regardless of their vaccination status. Fully vaccinated visitors do not need to wear a mask in outdoor areas.

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Bird Animal Keeper Internship (SCBI)

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's bird animal care team is seeking applications for a three-month internship session. Interns will have the opportunity to gain experience in the fields of animal care and conservation biology by participating in daily animal keeper activities, including animal husbandry, nutrition, behavioral observation and enrichment.

Learning Objectives: 

Through this position, the intern will:

  • Learn basic animal husbandry of birds alongside professional animal care staff, including cleaning enclosures, preparing food and enrichment activities, cleaning and caring for live feeder colonies (mice, insects, and anoles), nest checks, chick care, fecal collections, semen collation/assessment, egg incubation, assisting with environmental enhancements, enclosure maintenance, record keeping and observation
  • Learn formal and informal interpretive educational programs for guests
  • Learn how to develop and implement animal enrichment programs
  • Learn and follow animal/keeper safety guidelines, operations and policies
  • Learn USDA and AZA guidelines, NZP/SCBI directives, procedures and protocols, and other related literature.
  • Have the opportunity to develop an independent training, enrichment or research project with guidance of bird team staff
  • Present a short summary to SCBI Department of Animal Programs staff at the end of the posting
  • Must be able to find their own housing for the intern position term.
  • Must provide their own transportation to and from the SCBI campus, as there is no mass transit in Front Royal, Virginia, and SCBI is located off of a highway, so biking/hiking are not feasible.
  • Good physical condition, able to lift and carry a minimum of 50 pounds
  • Willingness to be available outside normal business hours, including weekends and holidays
  • Capable of participating outdoors in all weather conditions
  • Good written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to be an effective team member, oftentimes with minimal supervision
  • Ability to follow written and verbal instructions
  • Ability to remain calm and think rationally under pressure
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to be flexible when changes occur
  • Must have appropriate footwear. Appropriate outerwear is required for all the weather conditions: rain, snow, wind, hail, etc.

Experience and Qualities Preferred

  • Previous internships within the animal care field
  • Interest in learning about avian management with aspirations to advance in the wildlife or zoo field
  • Experience with exotic birds or wildlife animal care
  • Experience in zoos, wildlife conservation or similar settings

Safety Plan

  • Intern must wear appropriate face coverings, as outlined by the Smithsonian/SCBI policy, at all times
  • Intern will participate in social distancing of 6 feet among staff whenever possible
  • Intern will not conduct activities over the lunch break and will be provided a place to eat lunch socially-distanced from other staff members
  • Intern will have access to a dedicated computer and radio while performing animal care duties
  • Prior to conducting animal care activities, intern will complete all required safety training modules
  • Intern will not report to the SCBI campus if they are experiencing any symptoms of illness that have been associated with COVID
  • Intern will take COVID-related safety training online, ahead of reporting to SCBI for the first time
This is a non-paid internship opportunity, wherein the intern will support SCBI's Department of Animal Programs at the Front Royal, Virginia campus. No housing is provided.
Front Royal
The intern will make his or her own housing arrangements.
Parking is provided at the Front Royal, Virginia, campus.
Term of appointment: 

Sept. 1, 2021 – Nov. 30, 2021

Application deadline(s): 
Monday, July 26, 2021
Internship Category: 
Animal Programs
How to Apply: 

To apply, go to: https://solaa.si.edu. Select "Don't have an Account? Create An Account." 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 (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: “SCBI - Bird Animal Keeper Internship"

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.