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Primate Enrichment And Care Intern

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

Studying and understanding primate behavior is essential to the overall assessment of their welfare and care practices. The Smithsonian's National Zoo’s primate team is currently seeking interns to assist with studies in the areas of great ape enrichment assessment and primate enrichment design.

Primate Enrichment and Care interns will be responsible for collecting behavioral data to assess the effectiveness of current primate enrichment devices. Additionally, there will be opportunity to research, design, construct, and implement novel environmental enrichment items for the zoo’s primate residents which include gorillas, orangutans, gibbons, guenons, and lemurs. Interns will also be immersed in the daily primate husbandry routines and will assist keeper staff with cleaning enclosures, food preparation, and animal monitoring.

Learning Objectives: 

This is an unpaid internship opportunity wherein the intern will support the Department of Animal Programs-Primates.

Through this internship, interns will:

  • Learn to design, construct, and implement novel environmental enrichment.
  • Gain experience in all aspects of scientific research. This includes literature review, study design, data collection, data analysis, and formal presentation.
  • Gain a significant understanding of primate behavior through observation and development of ethograms to quantify natural behaviors.
  • Learn basic primate husbandry including cleaning exhibits, preparing food and enrichment activities, and assisting with environmental enhancements.


  • Bachelor’s degree (or current student) in a related field such as Zoology, Biology, Anthropology, Wildlife Science, Psychology, etc.
  • Experience with primates and/or in conducting behavioral research is preferred, but not required
  • Ability to commit to a regular schedule, 3 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
  • Upon acceptance interns will be required to provide documentation of a current (within 3 months) negative TB test, and tetanus.  Accepted interns must also pass a background check prior to their start date.
This is an unpaid internship. Special consideration will be given to applicants who receive college credit for internship. Intern is responsible for obtaining necessary approvals from their university. 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: 

There are two seasonal internship sessions: Spring (March 1, 2017 through May 31, 2017)and Summer (June 1, 2017 through Aug. 31, 2017). Reasonable exceptions may be made in order to coordinate with university schedules


Spring (March 1 2017-May 31, 2017)

Application deadline is February 10, 2017

Summer (June 1, 2017-Aug. 31, 2017)

Application deadline is April 1, 2017

Application deadline(s): 
Saturday, April 1, 2017
Internship Category: 
Animal Programs
How to Apply: 

To apply, please send the information listed in one email to Amanda Bania at

In your application packet, please include:

  • Resume or CV summarizing education (including current academic status) and employment experience.

  • 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, including at least one academic reference.

  • Schedule of availability.