ANIMAL SERVICES – ZOO KEEPER INTERNSHIPS

Interns in the Animal Services department should be motivated individuals interested in pursuing a career as a Zoo Keeper. While working with our Africa, Asia, Birds/Australia, Program Animal, Reptile, ZooFarm/North America, or Animal Wellness teams, interns will learn all aspects of animal care and management, as well as a working knowledge of applied behavioral management.

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Applicants that are local or regional, and that can commit for the entire internship period will receive preference, but individual circumstances will be considered. Interns working at the zoo must commit to wearing designated PPE (personal protective equipment) at all times as assigned, such as masks and gloves, while working both inside and outside in all kinds of weather.

Are you interested in gaining valuable, hands-on experience in the zoological field and first-hand knowledge and mentoring from experienced animal care professionals? Come join the animal care team at the Virginia Zoo! We are currently accepting applications for interns in the Animal Services department from motivated individuals interested in pursuing a rewarding career as a Zoo Keeper. Interns will work with our Zoo Farm/Americas, Africa, Asia, Animal Ambassador, Birds/Australia, or Reptile/Herp teams. Interns will learn all aspects of animal care and management in an AZA-accredited zoological organization.

Zoo keeper interns at the Virginia Zoo work directly alongside zoo keepers, animal managers and veterinary staff as we strive to continuously provide the best possible care for the animals here. Under the guidance of experienced zoo staff, interns have the opportunity to gain experience in many aspects of zoo keeping, including but not limited to: daily animal husbandry, care and nutrition; regular cleaning and maintenance of animal areas and exhibits, as well as an understanding of exhibit set-up and design; direct involvement in our animal enrichment and positive reinforcement training programs; an understanding of animal behavior and experience in behavioral observations and animal welfare/wellness assessments; record keeping; and guest interactions. Qualified applicants must be able to work in a team environment and work outdoors in a variety of weather conditions and temperatures. Interns will gain daily work experience as well as specialized training through a series of instructor-taught classes and skills training sessions provided by Lead Keepers, Zoological Managers, Veterinary staff, and our Enrichment Coordinator.

Applicants should either be college graduates, currently in college, or have some college semester credits completed. Applicants need to be able to commit to the four-month program, with a weekly work schedule of 40 hr/week. The internship does not provide an hourly salary but can qualify as paid zoological experience through a small monthly stipend for living costs. Negative TB tests are required.

There are 6 different area teams that prospective interns may apply for:

  • Zoo Farm and Americas: This team works with a wide variety of mammal species from North, Central and South America, in a guest-focused area of the zoo. Species this team cares for includes white faced Saki monkeys, Bolivian titi monkeys, a breeding family of two-toed sloths, Northern tree shrews, ringtail, American bison, Cape porcupines, Dexter cattle, miniature Zebu cattle, Southdown babydoll sheep, alpacas, degus, Kune Kune pigs, prairie dogs, Patagonian cavies, and two different species of armadillos. This team also works with birds, caring for the Southern crested screamers and peafowl.
  • Program Animals/Animal Ambassadors: This team works with a wide variety of ambassador animals that help inspire and educate zoo guests through stage presentations, event appearances, and educational pop-ups throughout the zoo, including several mammal species (degus, prehensile-tailed and Cape porcupines, several species of armadillos, two-toed sloth, domestic and Flemish rabbits, chinchillas, hedgehogs, Lesser Madagascar hedgehog tenrecs), several avian species (macaws, several birds of prey – including flight trained birds such as an Eurasian eagle owl, chickens, Toco toucan, tawny frogmouth) and several reptile and amphibian species (including a very large Burmese python).
  • Birds and Australia: This team specializes in avian species and works with a wide variety of birds around the zoo, including two different large ratite species (four Southern cassowaries and two male emus), a breeding pair of rhino hornbills, white-naped cranes, demoiselle cranes, cinereous vultures, bald eagle, laughing kookaburras, peacocks and peahens, guinea fowl, oropendolas, and many other different species of both perching and ground birds (from Victoria crowned pigeons to Asian fairy bluebirds to weavers). Many species are in breeding programs. This team also works with mammals, caring for a mob of Bennett’s wallabies.
  • Reptile/Herps: This team works with a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and aquatic species, including several species of lizards, snakes (venomous and nonvenomous), tortoises, turtles, Siamese crocodiles, seahorses, frogs and other amphibians – including a frog lab with several diverse species. Many species are in breeding programs. This team works primarily out of the recently renovated World of Reptiles building, as well as additional herpetological exhibits around the zoo.
  • Africa: This team works with a wide variety of African mammal species including white rhinos, Hartmann’s mountain zebras, lions, cheetahs, Masai giraffes, Eastern bongos, Watusi cattle, yellow-backed duikers, red river hogs, slender tailed meerkats, Cape porcupine and rock hyrax. This team also works with four different African bird species that live in mixed-species exhibits with the mammals: Stanley cranes, Egyptian geese, common ostriches, and Southern ground hornbills.
  • Asia: This team works with a wide variety of Asian mammal species including Malayan tigers, sun bears, moon bears (Asiatic black bears), Bornean and Bornean/Sumatran orangutans, siamang, white-cheeked gibbons, Malayan tapirs, Asian small-clawed otters, red pandas, and binturongs. This team also cares for an avian species in the Asia section, working with the sarus cranes. Please note that interns will not work directly with great apes or tigers, but may assist keepers in these areas.

Applicants should submit a resume, 3 references (include phone numbers and email addresses of references given) and a cover letter to Zookeeperinterns@norfolk.gov

Please indicate which areas you are interested in applying for in the subject line of your email; additionally, it is required that you choose at least 2-3 different areas you are interested to work in due to the high volume of applicants (you can let us know which area is your first choice in the body of your email). No phone calls or in-person inquiries at the zoo please. Due to the volume of applicants, only those selected for an interview can be contacted.

BEHAVIORAL OBSERVATION INTERNSHIP

The Behavioral Observation intern will work with staff to observe zoo animals and provide observational data that will contribute to the evaluation and assessment of behavior and welfare of the Zoo’s animals. The intern will learn about conducting, recording, and evaluating behavioral observations for a variety of species.

Learn More

Applicants that are local or regional, and that can commit for the entire internship period will receive preference, but individual circumstances will be considered. Interns working at the zoo must commit to wearing designated PPE (personal protective equipment) at all times as assigned, such as masks and gloves, while working inside and outside in all kinds of weather.

Interested in learning more about animal behavior? Come join us at the Virginia Zoo! We are currently looking to fill our next round of behavioral observation internships with the Animal Services department. The Behavioral Observation Intern will work with staff to collect and provide observational data that will contribute to the evaluation and assessment of animal behavior and welfare. The intern will learn about conducting, recording, and evaluating behavioral observations for a variety of species. Duties will include observing animal behavior, developing and evaluating enrichment, assisting with educating zoo visitors, and training volunteers on observation methods. The internship is unpaid, but there are many other benefits that will afford interns valuable experience. The next round of this internship open to new candidates runs from January 28 – May 17, 2021 and requires at least 15-20 hours of time devoted to the internship weekly.

Duties

  • Document observations of animal behavior relating to exhibit usage, behavior, con-specific animal interactions, and/or other similar welfare indicators
  • Assist with evaluating enrichment usage of zoo animals
  • Develop enrichment for a variety of zoo animals
  • Assist with training volunteers on observation methods

Qualifications

  • Be a current undergraduate or graduate student or recent graduate.
  • Coursework in animal behavior, psychology, anthropology, biology, or ecology is recommended but not required
  • Proficient with Microsoft Excel
  • Experience with conducting ethograms on zoological animals preferred but not required
  • Be available for at least 15-20 hours per week for the duration of the internship period
  • Available on weekdays and weekends
  • Able to use smartphone or tablet to input data via ZooMonitor app (training on data input and using the app will occur at the zoo and a tablet will be provided)
  • Have reliable transportation to and from the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, VA

How to Apply

Applicants should submit a resume, 3 references and a cover letter to: Zookeeperinterns@norfolk.gov.

Please include “Behavioral Observation Internship” in the email subject line and indicate this specific internship in your cover letter. No phone calls or in-person inquiries please.

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT INTERNSHIP

Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to teach conservation in an informal setting? Explore the many facets of environmental education at the Zoo: from field trip programs, Safari Camps, visitor programs, and more! The intern will build skills in program development, public speaking, and interpretation while learning about environmental issues and conservation education techniques used by zoo and aquarium professionals.

This internship is currently unavailable.

SUMMER SAFARI CAMP INTERNSHIP

Do you want to spend your summer break connecting children to the natural world? The Summer Safari Camp Intern will help to develop, create, and facilitate camp programs for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Along the way, they will be introduced to a variety of conservation issues and learn how to promote environmental stewardship in youth.

This internship is currently unavailable.

TEEN PROGRAMS INTERNSHIP

Are you a college student or recent college graduate interested in helping inspire the next generation of environmental stewards? Then the Teen Programs Internship is for you! The intern will train and supervise teen volunteers, inspire guests to care for the environment, and learn valuable management skills.

This internship is currently unavailable.

VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT INTERNSHIP

Are you looking to gain valuable management experience in a fun and dynamic setting? The Volunteer Management Intern will help recruit, interview, train, and supervise volunteers, while also learning about important environmental and conservation issues.

This internship is currently unavailable.