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Great Ape Research and Primate Husbandry Internship

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

The Smithsonian's National Zoo's primate team provides the opportunity for interns to gain experience in aspects of primate behavioral research, looking specifically at mother and offspring communication and development.

This intern will also deliver daily research demonstrations for the public at the Think Tank building, a unique exhibit which explores the biology and evolution of animal thinking, communication and sociality, focusing largely, though not exclusively, on primates. Interns will also be immersed in daily primate husbandry routines and will assist keeper staff with cleaning enclosures, food preparation and animal monitoring.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo is a part of the Smithsonian Institution, the worlds largest museum and research complex. The Zoo is a large, complex and diverse organization with a multifaceted mission: we save species. The Zoo provides engaging experiences with animals, and creates and shares knowledge to save wildlife and habitats. 

Learning Objectives: 

Through this internship, interns will:

  • Gain experience in aspects of scientific research, including literature review, data collection and presentation.
  • Gain a significant understanding of primate behavior through observation and development of ethograms to quantify natural behaviors.
  • Gain experience with public speaking and science outreach; the intern will deliver daily talks for the general public
  • Learn basic primate husbandry, including cleaning exhibits, preparing food and enrichment activities, and assisting with animal monitoring.
  • Undergraduate students (junior or senior), recent graduates or master's students in relevant fields, such as biology, anthropology, zoology, linguistics, wildlife science, psychology, etc.
  • Experience with primates and/or in conducting behavioral research is preferred.
  • Previous experience or interest in public speaking; intern delivers a daily research demonstration to a large public audience.
  • Ability to commit to a regular schedule, three days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Ability to work both independently and in a team environment with staff and volunteers
  • Professional and self-motivated
  • Ability to stand, stoop, climb and lift up to 50 pounds.
  • Interns are subject to fingerprinting, must pass a background test and must have a current negative TB test (available at Smithsonian's National Zoo upon acceptance).
This is an unpaid internship.
Washington DC
Intern is responsible for making their 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: 
This is a six month internship, from January to July 2020.
Application deadline(s): 
Friday, December 20, 2019
Internship Category: 
Animal Programs
How to Apply: 

Please send the following information in a single email to Alexandra Reddy at

In your application packet, please include:

  • Professional resume or CV
  • One-page statement of your interest in pursuing this position, detailing relevant experience, career goals and what you hope to gain from this internship
  • Contact information for one to two professional or academic references