If you are thinking about going to veterinary school, just love animals, or want to get into any another animal-focused career. Then having animal experience hours is a must. Zoo internships and wildlife internships can help you gain a lot of experience and learn if these are areas that you want to pursue.
If you are thinking about going to vet school later in life then you will need to get some veterinary experience through pre-vet internships.
Most veterinary schools like you to have a wide range of animal experience and zoo internships can help with that, especially if you are able to land one where you can work under a veterinarian.
Having to palpate a horse in first-year anatomy, when you’ve never been around one can be a scary thing, so getting some experience beforehand will definitely help you out.
When I was in veterinary school the year beforehand I volunteered with an equine vet once a week. He worked long hours and many times didn’t have a tech with him, so he was happy to have my free help. During our rides around the countryside, I got to pick his brain on everything I could think of having to do with equine medicine. He loved to talk, so this worked out well!
By the time I got to vet school, I was comfortable around horses. This would not have been the case had I not sought out this volunteer/shadowing opportunity. If you have asked yourself “how many years does it take to become a veterinarian” then our site can help!
Equine Large Animal Pre-Vet Internships
Google search 10 equine vets in your area and start calling them one by one asking if they allow pre-vet shadowing. One of the 10 is bound to say “yes”. Be prepared for long days. When I did this large animal pre-veterinary internship we met at 7 am and worked until 9 pm-midnight. The equine veterinarian that I did the large animal pre vet internship with also wrote me an excellent letter of recommendation. You have a chance to really get to know each other when you are riding around with the veterinarian making house calls all day.
Wildlife Veterinary Internships
Become a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator. Some wildlife internships will require you to become a licensed rehabber before the internship begins. Earning your wildlife rehabilitator license can easily allow you to turn this into a summer job with animals as well.
Requirements vary state by state and you would contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife representative to find out what the requirements are for your state. For New York, all you need to do is pass an exam http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/25027.html (which is free), have an interview, and fill out a form. Once you are licensed in New York you can volunteer your time with any Wildlife Rehabilitation Organization. There are so many organizations looking for help. Here in NY, we have Urban Utopia Wildlife and The Wild Bird Fund, just to name a few.
Volunteer time with a rescue group walking dogs. Most rescue groups would love to have more dog walkers available and on-call. I started out walking dogs at a rescue group and that allowed me to get my foot in the door and eventually move into a position in their surgery center. I was able to work alongside all of the vets and 4th-year vet students doing an internship in shelter medicine.
As you can see here, https://www.oregonhumane.org/get-involved/volunteer/adults-18/ a volunteer position in the surgery center is not listed on their website, only after starting out as a dog walker and asking around was I able to get into the surgery center.
If you live near Portland, OR, and want to volunteer in their surgery center, start out as a dog walker and you can easily work your way into a prevet internship position in the surgery center.
Great Wildlife Veterinary Internships
The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center has wildlife internship opportunities in their hospital, sanctuary, and educational outreach areas. Most of the wildlife internship opportunities last 3 months.
Crow Clinic, Sanibel Island, Florida Crow Clinic has a student externship program for pre-vet, veterinary technician, natural sciences and veterinary medicine students. You work with a veterinarian and a licensed wildlife rehabber. The externships can last anywhere from 6 weeks to 1 year. Crow provides housing.
Veterinary Zoo Internships
Looking for a career in zoo medicine or zoology? The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) has a job listing board where you can select “internships”. You will get a list of zoo internships for zoos and aquariums all over the US.
Some zoo internships can also be acquired by contacting the director of each zoo internship program, like this one at The Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. They have a lot of internship opportunities in all departments.
Whether you want to see if becoming a zoological veterinarian is for you, or you just want to gain more animal experience, a zoo internship is a great stepping stone.
Large Animal Internships – Undergraduate – Great Pre Vet Internships
The Woodstock Farm Sanctuary has a 2-month internship opportunity. Housing is provided as well as a cost of living stipend. Pre vet large animal Internships are available year round but the summers fill up quickly. This might be a way to get large animal experience hours.
Veterinary Internships for Undergraduates + Pre-Vet Internships
Plum Island Animal Disease Center Located in NY. The entire facility is dedicated to foreign animal diseases. Have or be completing an undergraduate, or graduate (M.S., DVM, Ph.D., MD or equivalent) degree in veterinary medicine, pathology, microbiology, immunology, molecular biology, virology, epidemiology, computational biology, biostatistics, or other discipline related to foreign animal diseases.
Marine Mammal Internships – Pre Vet Internships
Alaska SeaLife Center This animal internship is for college students or graduates. You will gain skills in the areas pertaining to marine mammal, avian, and animal husbandry. A marine mammal internship is also considered a pre-veterinary large animal internship. Housing is provided and the fellowship lasts 10-12 weeks.
Large Animal Pre-Vet Internships
Safari 4 U Vet has programs for those interested in wildlife, large animal, and small animal medicine. The wildlife internship program is designed for pre-vets or anyone even thinking about a career in animal medicine, veterinary students, or veterinarians. I have heard nothing short of amazing reviews on the large animal pre-veterinary internship program.
BELOW ARE 2 INTERVIEWS WITH CURRENT VET STUDENTS WHO HAVE A LOT OF WILDLIFE EXPERIENCE
- If you are interested in wildlife medicine, we have this interview with William.
- Cat had a lot of wildlife experience hours before applying, and she got into 3 schools.