Carnivore Animal Keeper Internship (SCBI)

The Department of Animal Programs, Carnivore Unit, at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute's Front Royal, Virginia, campus (SCBI) is seeking applications for one internship position for a six-month session (40 hours/week). 

The intern will have the opportunity to gain experience in the field of animal care and conservation biology by participating in daily animal keeper activities and associated research, including animal husbandry, nutrition, behavioral observations and enrichment. This is a paid internship opportunity, wherein the intern will support the Department of Animal Programs at SCBI. Dormitory housing is provided starting in May 2024.

Learning Objectives

Interns will: 

  • Learn alongside professional animal care staff basic animal husbandry of carnivores, including cleaning enclosures, preparing food and enrichment activities, cleaning and caring for live feeder colony, participating in associated research, fecal collections, reproductive assessments, enclosure maintenance, horticulture work, 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, NZCBI directives, procedures and protocols, and other related literature.
  • Have the opportunity to develop an independent training, enrichment or research project with guidance of carnivore team staff
  • Present a short summary to NZCBI Department of Animal Programs staff at the end of the posting


Interns must possess:

  • 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 weather conditions (rain, snow, wind, hail, etc.)

Experience and Qualities Preferred

  • Previous internships within the animal care field
  • Interest in learning about carnivore management with aspirations to advance in the wildlife or zoo field
  • Experience with exotic felids, mustelids or wildlife animal care
  • Experience in a zoo, wildlife conservation or similar settings

Safety Plan

  • Prior to conducting animal care activities, intern will complete all required safety training modules
  • Intern will not perform duties when the Front Royal, Virginia campus is closed for weather events 
  • 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 the Front Royal, Virginia campus for the first time


$500 per month, plus $9 per day to offset the cost of on-site dormitory housing.


Front Royal


On-site government housing at SCBI in Front Royal, Virginia, will be provided at a cost of $9 per day (see stipend information). Dormitory, non-smoking, no pets and additional codes of conduct apply.


Free parking is provided at the SCBI campus.

Term of appointment

This is a six-month internship that will run from May 1, 2024 through Nov. 1, 2024. Interns are expected to commit 40 hours per week.

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)

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 - Carnivore 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.