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Sea Lion Behavior Research Internship

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

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo provides the opportunity for interns to gain experience in the animal behavior field by participating in research activities, including but not limited to animal behavior observation, data collection, analysis, presentation, database management, etc. The successful applicant will work primarily within the American Trail department participating in a behavioral research project on sea lion regurgitation. This position is overseen by the Assistant Curator, Animal Welfare and Research. 

Learning Objectives: 

Gain experience in the field of animal behavior research, understand the data collection methodology and become familiar with the basic analyses of a behavioral research project. Interns will:

  • Learn and follow safety guidelines of the American Trail team
  • Learn to identify individual sea lions
  • Become informed on basic research methodology (in relation to this study)
  • Learn to collect data with ZooMonitor, a research software program
  • Observe keepers in the feeding/training of sea lions
  • Learn to manage the process of data collection while on public display (balancing the needs of a research project with the needs of the visiting public)
  • Participate in basic analyses session to identify progress of each intervention

Smithsonian interns are subject to fingerprinting, must pass a background test, and must have a current negative TB test (available at the Smithsonian's National Zoo) and proof of current tetanus vaccination.

All duties will occur in a dynamic zoo setting, and the appointed intern will need to be a flexible team player. Safety protocols for interns must be strictly adhered to at all times.

Successful applicants will be at least a junior in college or hold a university degree. Strong preference will be given to those applicants who have experience working on previous behavioral research projects, with Excel or with animal management. The intern must be able to work in an outdoor environment in all weather conditions and be comfortable working in a team environment with staff, other interns and volunteers.

This is an unpaid internship. Current students may arrange to receive college credit, if desired; intern is responsible for obtaining necessary approvals from their university. The intern will be responsible for all housing, personal health insurance and transportation costs (the Zoo is accessible via mass transit; parking is not provided). Uniform shirts and a jacket will be provided. Interns must provide their own pants/shorts and shoes.
Washington DC
The intern will make his or her 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: 

Interns are expected to be on-site two to three days per week, including weekends and holidays, as scheduled. Hours will be scheduled during the day but will vary based on research conditions and when the primary study sea lion is scheduled to be fed. A commitment of four to six months starting September 2018 is required, with potential for an additional six months.

Application deadline(s): 
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Internship Category: 
Animal Programs
How to Apply: 

Interested candidates should send a resume or CV, a one page statement of their interest in this position, and two professional or academic references that may be contacted regarding the application to NZP-ResearchIntern@si.edu.