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Health and Welfare in Great Apes Research Internship

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

Through this internship, students will learn about health and welfare in zoo-housed great apes. Specifically, students will learn about the variety of health issues experienced by chimpanzees and bonobos housed in North American zoos, as well as life history events that may contribute to their morbidity and mortality. Selected interns will also learn about the day-to-day practicalities of conducting research with animals housed in zoos, the types of data that are available, and data mining, management and organization.

Remote interns are welcome and encouraged to apply. Interns who are local will have the opportunity to participate in endocrine laboratory meetings, monthly journal clubs, monthly student discussion groups and a bi-monthly “Meet the Scientist” series. All interns, whether local or remote, will learn about the wide range of conservation research being conducted by scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and its collaborators through the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation/SCBI Seminar Series (remote interns are able to attend these seminars online).

This internship is an excellent opportunity for students to increase their understanding of research on animal health and welfare, and the health issues specific to housing great apes. Group meetings over video chat will be held monthly to discuss progress and address questions and concerns. Feedback will be given as needed as interns progress through their training. Students who successfully complete their internships will receive documentation in the form of a certificate. Letters of recommendation for future opportunities will be provided for interns who successfully complete their internship for a two-year period.

Learning Objectives: 

This is an unpaid internship opportunity during which interns will participate in a project assessing health and welfare in zoo-housed chimpanzees and bonobos. Interns will directly support ongoing research in the endocrinology lab of renowned reproductive physiologist Janine L. Brown of the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

During this internship, interns will:

  • Learn to identify and categorize clinical problems in great apes using historical medical records
  • Learn how to identify and categorize variables which predict the development of clinical problems in great apes using historical medical records
  • Interpret and analyze data using an epidemiological approach
  • Organize and manage large data sets

Students must:

  • At least be in their sophomore year of college at an accredited institution starting in January 2019
  • Be pursuing, or interested in pursuing, careers related to veterinary medicine, zoo or wildlife research, conservation biology, or wildlife management
  • Have an interest in the health and welfare of zoo-housed populations and in conducting research within these collections
  • Be able to devote 15-20 hours per week toward learning (specific hours are determined by the student)
  • Commit to a once-monthly group meeting via video chat
  • Be comfortable working with Excel
  • Have strong communication skills
  • Be intrinsically motivated and have good time management skills

Students who are local and wish to work on-site must be fingerprinted and pass a background check.

This is an unpaid internship.
Front Royal
The intern will make his or her own housing arrangements in the Washington, D.C., area. This project is being conducted at the Center for Species Survival at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute located in Front Royal, Virginia. Being on-site at SCBI is not required, and students who are not local to the Front Royal, Virginia, area are encouraged to apply. Local students may work on-site.
Local interns will be provided with free parking at SCBI for the duration of the internship, provided they adhere to the rules and regulations pertaining to the use of a personal vehicle on-site, and remain in good standing with the project lead.
Term of appointment: 

This is a six-month, part-time internship starting Feb. 11, 2019, and ending Aug. 10, 2019. There is the potential for flexibility around the start date on a case-by-case basis, but all internships must be completed by the specified end date.

Application deadline(s): 
Sunday, January 20, 2019
Internship Category: 
How to Apply: 

Applications will be reviewed at the end of January, and applicants will be contacted directly for phone/video interviews. Selected applicants will be notified in early February. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

To apply, go to: and select "New to SOLAA? Create Account Here." 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.
  • Transcript from your current institution (unofficial transcripts are acceptable).
  • Degrees held or expected.
  • Contact information for two references.

Once you create your account and after you provide the above information, 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: “Great Ape Health and Welfare Internship”

IMPORTANT: Your application is considered complete when you hit “Submit.” Your SOLAA submitted application must be received by the deadlines as noted above.

For Additional Information

Please email Ashley Edes for further information regarding the Health and Welfare in Great Apes Research Internship. All prospective students must submit application materials through SOLAA. Phones inquiries will not be accepted.