Bird House Keeper Internship

The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute's Bird House is looking for qualified interns who are interested in developing 21st-century zoo professional skills in animal care. Interns play an important role in animal conservation and have the unique opportunity to aid animal care staff in various responsibilities associated with maintaining the bird collection. Tasks include routine cleaning of animal enclosures, diet preparations, exhibit maintenance, animal observations, behavioral enrichment and operant conditioning.

Learning Objectives

Interns will:

  • Experience and learn all aspects of animal husbandry, including but not limited to food preparation, exhibit maintenance, daily and weekly cleaning tasks, public presentations, daily enrichment, operant conditioning techniques, veterinary procedures, animal behavior observation and record keeping
  • Learn and follow animal and keeper safety guidelines, operations and polices
  • Participate in professional development opportunities made available throughout the internship to learn about zoo operations
  • Perform other duties as assigned

Support will be given to any intern who wishes to pursue the publication of their project results at the end of the internship.


  • Strong preference will be given to undergraduate and graduate students or recent graduates pursuing a career in a related field. 
  • Previous animal experience in a zoo or aquarium preferred but not required
  • Flexible, reliable, self-motivated and a team player
  • Ability to follow oral and written instructions
  • Able to establish and maintain an effective rapport with all levels of management, employees, volunteers and Zoo guests
  • Strong written and oral communication
  • Good observational skills
  • Able to walk, stand, sit, kneel, stoop, crawl, twist, reach above head, pull, bend, climb stairs and ladders, carry up to 50 pounds, and actively work in inclement weather
  • Possess current identification (i.e., driver's license, government issued ID, passport, etc.)
  • Otherwise eligible to work in the U.S. at the time of the internship
  • Pass a background check and provide proof of negative TB test within the past year


This is an unpaid internship. Intern will be responsible for all transportation costs and personal health insurance.


Washington DC


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.

Term of appointment

This is a three-month internship with the possibility to extend to six months. Interns must be able to commit to 30-40 hours per week, including holidays and weekends.

Application deadline(s)



Internship Category

Animal Programs

How to Apply

To apply, go to 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: “Rock Creek - Bird House 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.