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General Internships

The Houston Zoo invites college students and aspiring professionals to participate in unpaid internships at our AZA accredited facility. Internships are available in most animal sections, as well as conservation, education, marketing, special events, and water quality departments. Internships are designed around spring, summer, and fall semesters, but not all areas will have openings available during each term.

Experiences are hands-on and guided by a training plan designed just for you! Networking opportunities and continuing education classes offered throughout the internship will further enrich your time at the Houston Zoo, giving you a competitive edge for pursuing a career in the zoo field. Come learn about our mission to connect communities with animals, inspiring action to save wildlife.

Please continue down the page for details on our Collegiate Conservation Program and Veterinary Research Internships.

General Internship Requirements

  • At least 18 years old as of the internship application due date and currently enrolled in college (or within 1 year of post-college graduation at application due date)
  • Applicants should be studying a field related to the desired placement
  • Accepted interns must pass a criminal background check at their own cost of $37, with potential additional fees according to your address history (Additional Background Check Fees). Background checks for interns that have lived internationally within the last 7 years may also incur separate charges. Due to background check procedures, you must be legally authorized to work in the United States and/or currently reside in the USA.
  • T-shirts and name tags will be an additional $20 cost to you
  • Minimum time commitment is 200 hours but may be as high as 400 hours – specific hours vary by department (please review department requirements in the description document below)
  • Give a 15 minute final presentation for their department
  • Any applicable university or college credit (or additional requirements) must be arranged by the student through his/her institution and presented to Zoo staff during interviews
  • All housing and transportation must be arranged by the intern
  • Certain Animal Care interns are required to provide proof of a negative TB test (valid for the duration of the internship)
  • All applicants must provide a cover letter, a current resume, and one letter of recommendation from either a professor or previous employer in their online application
  • Note that completion of an internship does not guarantee full-time or part-time job placement at the Houston Zoo

NE Fish Tutorial-0009-3966Please review the following documents to learn more about each of our general internship opportunities:

Animal Care Internship Descriptions and Requirements

Non-Animal Care Internship Descriptions and Requirements

What Makes a Qualified Applicant:
Internships at the Houston Zoo are designed to be educational experiences but you should have an academic or professional background to some extent in the area that you want your internship. To be most competitive as an animal care intern, you should get experience working with animals in other capacities (animal shelters, wildlife rehabilitation clinics, or large animal work for example).

Going above and beyond the classroom setting will prove your passion for this field! Seek extra-curricular experiences that will showcase your ability to work on concepts related to the focus of your desired internship.

If your skill set does not lend itself to the internship you want, be sure to explain fully why you are the best candidate in your cover letter. Work ethic, the ability to get along with others, utilizing good judgement, and enthusiasm for conservation are valuable skills that are not career-specific.

What Interns Are Saying About Their Experience:
-“An educational experience that allowed me to work alongside both exotic animals and supportive people to see the daily tasks of a zookeeper.”
-“This was a great opportunity for learning, choosing a career path, networking, enhancing communication skills, and getting to work with awesome animals.”
-“Interning at the Houston Zoo was an educational, impactful experience that has given me applicable career experience.”
-“It was a great, informative, multidimensional experience where I was educated by people with a passion for conservation and animal care.”

Watch one of our interns as she is interviewed about her time as an intern in the sea lion department!

Program Dates:
Fall 2018:  September 4, 2018 through December 22, 2018
Spring 2019:  January 15, 2019 through April 28, 2019
Summer 2019:  May 13, 2019 through August 23, 2019

Application Timelines 
Spring 2019:  Apply August 1, 2018 through November 1, 2018
Summer 2019:  Apply December 1, 2018 through March 1, 2019 (at 12:30 PM CST)
Fall 2019:  Apply April 1, 2019 through July 1, 2019 (at 12:30 PM CST)

We are no longer accepting applications for Spring 2019 internships; all candidates will be contacted by December 5.


*Various paid internships are occasionally offered depending on funding. Visit the Houston Zoo careers page for any available paid opportunities.

Collegiate Conservation Program (summers)

Houston Zoo Collegiate Conservation Program internships are designed for college sophomores, juniors, or seniors who are interested in a participatory, team-based summer internship opportunity that focuses on field conservation science techniques, conservation education program development, and culminates in proposing a regional conservation education project.

Veterinary Student Conservation Research Internships (summers)

The Houston Zoo offers Veterinary Conservation Research Internships, one in Avian Conservation and one in Amphibian Conservation. Applicants MUST have successfully completed at least one year of education at an accredited veterinary college by May 2018 to be eligible. Candidates should have a passion for zoo or wildlife medicine and an interest in research and scientific writing.

The Veterinary Conservation Research Interns will work closely with Houston Zoo veterinarians as well as husbandry and conservation specialists, and have hands on experience caring for endangered birds and amphibians.
pdf_iconVet Student Research Internship Descriptions

The application for summer 2019 internships will open in December.

Want experience but an internship doesn’t fit?

Try volunteering! Visit our volunteer page for more information.

Questions? Contact us at