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 click on the specific pages for the most current specs and details of the programs.

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 was founded in 1990 and is one of the best-known animal behavior internships. Students receive a generous $4500 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.
  • The Center for Animal Welfare at the University of California-Davis offers several summer research internships related to animal behavior. Undergraduate students have the chance to use the latest software and video techniques to code and observe animal behavior. Examples of upcoming animal behavior projects are listed on the UC Davis website. College credit is available for these summer internships.
  • 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 Whale Center of New England (in Massachusetts) offers marine biology and behavior internships, with a concentration on the study of humpback whale behavior. Internships last 10 to 12 weeks and are offered in the spring, summer, and fall to coincide with whale activity in the area. Students may have the chance to perform population studies, collect and transcribe data, photograph animals for the identification database, and present an independent research project. Applicants must have completed their freshman year of college and have a major in biology, zoology, or a related area. Internships are unpaid.
  • 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 3 full (8 hours) 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). 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 an animal behavior and environmental enrichment internship 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. Fall, winter, spring and summer internships are available.
  • The National Zoo (in Washington D.C.) offers a research program in animal behavior 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, and analyze results. The internship is unpaid, and interns must work 20 to 40 hours per week. It is possible to obtain college credit through this program.
  • The Denver Zoo (in Colorado) 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. If paid, interns earn $9 per hour for up to a 40 hour work week. College credit may also be available.

Additional animal related internships can be found on this site listed under equine internships, pre-veterinary internships, wildlife rehabilitation internships, zoo internships, and marine animal internships.