Due to weekend storm activity, some Panda Palooza activities have been postponed. See the full schedule here.

Share this page:

Bird Research Keeper Aide Intern

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

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is seeking an intern interested in acquiring and developing 21st century zoo professional skills at the Zoo's newly renovated Bird House exhibit in Washington, D.C. Interns play an important role in animal conservation and have the unique opportunity to learn about and participate in evidence-based animal management.

Interns will receive training under the supervision of animal care professionals specializing in the fields of animal behavior and ornithology. They will learn from animal care staff about collecting data associated with maintaining an exciting new bird collection. Interns will learn routine cleaning of animal enclosures, diet preparations, exhibit maintenance, animal observations, behavioral enrichment and operant conditioning.

Interns are required to commit to 24-40 hours a week for three months with the possibility of extending the internship up to six months. 

Learning Objectives: 

Intern will learn about and gain first-hand experience in:

  • Data entry
  • 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
  • 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
  • Following animal and keeper safety guidelines, operations and polices
  • Professional development opportunities made available throughout the internship to learn about Zoo operations
  • Other duties as assigned necessary to maintain and exhibit a collection of live animals in a zoological setting
  • Preference will be given to undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a career in a related field.
  • Previous animal experience in a zoo or aquarium is preferred but not required.
  • Available 24-40 hours per week for three months, with the possibility to extend up to six months, including holidays and weekends.
  • 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
  • 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 and Zoo guests
  • Ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing
  • Have good observational skills
  • Pass a background check and provide proof of negative TB test within the past year
  • Possess current identification (e.g., driver's license, government issued ID, passport, etc.)
  • Otherwise eligible to work in the U.S. at the time of the internship
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 does not provide free parking for interns.
Term of appointment: 

Three months (with possibility to extend to six months).  Commitment of three to five days per week, including holidays and weekends.

Application deadline(s): 
Saturday, December 31, 2022
Internship Category: 
Animal Programs
How to Apply: 

How to Apply: To apply, go to solaa.si.edu. Select "Don't have an Account? Create an Account." Complete the information to create an account. Once your account is created, provide the info below.

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 university. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
  • Two letters of reference (one must be from a current or 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 Research Keeper Aide Intern
  • 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.

Questions about this internship should be directed to Sara Hallager, curator of birds, at hallagers@si.edu.