How to Find Primate Internships

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Primate internships can be great learning opportunities for students interested in becoming primatologists, zoologists, zookeepers, wildlife biologists, or animal behaviorists.  Please note that there are some organizations that offer “internships” that require the student to pay to participate in the program.  The opportunities detailed below do not have such participation fees and some offer a stipend, free housing, or an hourly wage.

Here are some internship options for those looking to gain experience with primates:

The California National Primate Research Center offers a variety of internship opportunities at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels.  Interested students are encouraged to contact faculty directly to inquire about these positions.  The center also offers a residency program in primate medicine for veterinarians.  The program lasts for 29 months and includes clinical rounds, classes, seminars, and a research project.

Chimp Haven (in Louisiana) offers several opportunities for interns to work with chimpanzees living in their sanctuary.  Students may work in animal care and husbandry, behavior, environmental enrichment, or veterinary medicine.  Most opportunities require at least a 4 to 8-week commitment and 40 hours per week.  Internships at Chimp Haven are unpaid but housing may be available on site.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund offers several primate internship positions including a research internship based at Zoo Atlanta.  This one-year internship involves behavioral and cognitive research, data entry and analysis, and public lectures.  A 40 hour work week is required, and applicants must have a BA in psychology, zoology, or a closely related field.

  Interns receive a monthly stipend.

The Duke Lemur Center (in North Carolina) offers internships in several areas including husbandry, field research, and education.  The facility has more than 250 animals on site (primarily lemurs but also other species such as bush babies).  Internships are available in spring, summer, and fall sessions (the educational internship is only offered in the summer).  These are unpaid opportunities but college credit may be arranged.

The Lincoln Park Zoo (in Illinois) offers the Fisher Center Research Internship program for aspiring primatologists.  Part-time internships are unpaid and require a commitment of at least 12 hours per week over a four month period.  Part-time interns collect behavioral data on gorillas and chimpanzees.  There are between 7 and 12 part-time internship positions offered each year, with new interns generally starting in January, May, or September.  Full-time internships are paid opportunities that begin in the summer and run for a full year.  Only three full-time positions are offered each year and the selection process is highly competitive.

The Pacific Primate Sanctuary (in Hawaii) offers internships with its collection of New World primates.

  Interns earn a Primary Animal Caregiver Certification at the conclusion of their year at the sanctuary.  Daily activities include providing basic care, cleaning and maintaining the facility, animal handling, assisting with veterinary work, keeping records, and training volunteers.  While the internships are unpaid, shared housing (with wireless internet and utilities provided) is provided on site.

The Primate Rescue Center (in Kentucky) offers a one-year internship working with 50 primates in a sanctuary environment.  Applicants should be recent graduates with a background in primatology, animal behavior, biology, psychology, or a closely related area.  Interns learn about primate care, husbandry, rehabilitation, and behavior.  The work week is 40 hours plus some evening and weekend events.

  The intern receives on-site housing and a stipend of $50 per week.

The Southwest National Primate Research Center (in Texas) offers undergraduate and graduate student internships for 8 weeks each summer (and on a limited basis during the rest of the year).  The facility boasts the largest captive baboon population plus a variety of other species such as chimpanzees, macaques, marmosets, and tamarins.  Summer internship applications are due in mid-March and as many as six interns will be selected to participate.  Interns receive an hourly wage based on experience plus up to $1,000 per student for supplies or research expenses.

The Tulane National Primate Research Center (in Louisiana) offers paid undergraduate and veterinary internships.  The undergraduate internships are designed for students with an interest in biomedical research.  Undergraduate interns work directly with a mentor to complete a specific research project.  The veterinary internships are available to students who have completed at least the first year of vet school.  Vet interns learn about primate medicine, pathology, and research.  Compensation is available at the rate of $10.01 per hour for undergraduate interns and $14.56 for veterinary interns.  Applications for both opportunities are due February 1 and the internships run from June to August.