10 Ideas for Zoo Internships, Wildlife Internships, or Animal Internships

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.

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.



  1. 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 we met at 7 am and worked until 9pm-midnight.


  1. Become a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator. Some wildlife internships will require you to become a licensed rehabber before the internship begins. 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.


zoo internships and Wildlife internships The Wild Bird Fund

The Wild Bird Fund, where you can see ducks, gulls, and chickens roaming around the waiting room.

Wildlife internships Zoo internships, at the wild bird fund

A duck being treated at the Wild Bird Fund in NYC.

  1. 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, email me through the contact form and I can put you in touch with the person in charge of this area.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. The Woodstock Farm Sanctuary has a 2-month internship opportunity. Housing is provided as well as a cost of living stipend. Internships are available year round but the summers fill up quickly. This might be a way to get large animal experience hours.


  1. 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.


  1. 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. Housing is provided and the fellowship lasts 10-12 weeks.


  1. 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 program.