Small Mammal House Enrichment Internship

The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute provides the opportunity for interns to gain experience in enrichment and other husbandry-related tasks at the Zoo's Small Mammal House. The intern must target species-specific behaviors for more than 30 species of mammals, including carnivores, rodents, and primates. Interns will assist staff in developing new enrichment items and protocols while conducting a related project and shadowing daily keeper duties.

Learning Objectives

Through this internship, interns will:

  • Learn to design, construct, and implement environmental enrichment.
  • Learn how to research and create new enrichment for the Zoo's Small Mammal House residents. All enrichment must fall within established safety guidelines for each species. Behavioral observations will be essential in order to evaluate the success of all enrichment.
  • Learn basic animal husbandry alongside animal care staff, including cleaning exhibits, preparing diets, and preparing enrichment alongside animal care staff.
  • Learn formal and informal interpretive educational programs for visitors
  • Learn and follow animal/keeper safety guidelines, operations, and policies.

Support will be given to any intern who wishes to pursue publication of their project results at the end of their internship.


  • Strong preference will be given to undergraduate and graduate students or recent graduates pursuing a career in a related field.
  • Must be able to work both independently and in a team environment with staff, volunteers, and other interns.
  • Strong communication and public speaking skills.
  • Ability to stand, stoop, climb, and lift up to 50 pounds.
  • Flexibility and a good sense of humor.
  • Must be willing to commit to a regular schedule, including potential weekends and holidays.
  • Upon acceptance and one month prior to arriving for work, the intern will be required to provide documentation for a current negative TB test and tetanus shot. The intern must also pass a background check prior to their start date.


This is an unpaid internship. Staff will give strong support of the applicant’s pursuit of college credit for experience during the 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 Smithsonian's National Zoo does not provide free parking to interns. Public transportation is suggested.

Term of appointment

Internship runs from August-December 2024. Exact start and end dates to be determined upon selection. Interns must be able to devote 20-30 hours per week. Reasonable exceptions may be made to coordinate with university or work schedules.

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:

  • Cover sheet including name, address, phone number, email address, and which internship(s) you are applying for.
  • 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. If referrers prefer to send letters of reference directly to the intern coordinator, they may do so to the email address below. However, applicants must notify the coordinators if their references will be arriving separately, or the application may be considered incomplete.
  • Schedule of availability (typical schedule is 3 days per week, 7 a.m. - 3 p.m., reasonable exceptions may be made to coordinate with job or university schedules).

Once you create your account and provide the requested information, you will be prompted to 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: “Rock Creek - Small Mammals Enrichment”

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