Animal Behavior Internships

Predators in competition for food
••• Stephen Frink/Photodisc/Getty Images

There are many internship options available for those seeking to gain experience in the field of animal behavior. Here is a sampling of what the industry has to offer. Be sure to check the specific websites since the internships can get booked quickly and change each semester.

Animal Behavior Internships

  • Indiana University’s Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates in Animal Behavior gives students the chance to participate in lab work, field work, presentations, and data analysis. The ten-week program offers a generous $5,000 stipend, a private dorm room on campus, meals, and additional funds for travel expenses. Applications are due in February. Be sure to check the website for the most current specs of the program.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park (in Florida) has an Animal Behavior Professional Internship program which allows students to observe animals in the collection, assist with study design, collect data, and interact with park visitors. The internship is designed for college juniors and seniors majoring in an animal behavior related area such as biology, zoology, or psychology. Applicants must also have experience with animal behavior research and work in an animal related job.
  • The Hawaii Ocean Project offers internships focused on the behavior of the North Pacific humpback whale through the Island Marine Institute. These internships are open to undergraduate students, graduate students, recent graduates, and industry professionals. Interns collect and analyze data, take identification photographs, and operate underwater video equipment. They also may be involved with research involving green sea turtles and coral reefs. Diving experience is preferable. Internships are four months long, with at least three full, eight hour days required per week, and are unpaid. College credit is possible.
  • The Saint Louis Zoo (in Missouri) offers an animal behavior research internship for upper-level college undergraduates and recent graduates. Observation of animals may consist of both “live” observation and analysis of behavior on videotape (recorded using a state of the art system). However, the program does not involve direct animal contact. Students spend a significant amount of time collecting and analyzing data. A commitment of 20 hours per week is standard. College credit is possible.
  • The Oregon Zoo offers multiple internships including animal behavior, conservation, and research for undergraduate and graduate students. Students observe animals in the zoo’s collection from a distance and also on video, analyzing data and compiling information as a part of the zoo’s behavioral research program. The internship is unpaid, but college credit and letters of recommendation are available to those who complete the program.
  • The National Zoo (in Washington D.C.) offers a research program in animal behavior of rare and endangered species to high school seniors, undergraduates, and graduate students. While hands-on interaction with the animals is not included as a part of this internship, students will have ample opportunities to observe animals, collect data, use GPS, and cameras to monitor behavior and analyze results. The internship is unpaid, and interns must work three to five days per week. It is possible to obtain college credit through this program.
  • The Denver Zoo offers a behavioral husbandry internship to college students and recent graduates majoring in a related field such as biology, psychology, or animal science. Interns work in close proximity to the animals and are responsible for designing and conducting an independent student research project. During this process, they will observe and videotape animals, collect and analyze data, and write a formal report. The internship is unpaid, but college credit may be available.