The Houston Zoo offers unpaid internships for current or recent college students. 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.
Please continue down the page for details on our Collegiate Conservation Program and Veterinary Research Internships.
General Internship Requirements
- Applicants must be at least 18 years old as of the internship start 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
- Pay a one-time $55 fee to offset the cost of your on-boarding and uniform (this cost may be higher for international applicants)
- The 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).
- Interns will give a 15 minute presentation at the end of the semester 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
Please review the following documents to learn more about each of our general internship opportunities:
Application Timelines (all close at 4 PM):
Summer 2018: Apply December 1, 2017 through March 1, 2018
Fall 2018: Apply April 1, 2018 through July 1, 2018
Spring 2019: Apply August 1, 2018 through November 1, 2018
Fall 2017: September 7, 2017 through December 18, 2017
Spring 2018: January 15, 2018 through April 28, 2018
Summer 2018: May 14, 2018 through August 25, 201
We are no longer accepting applications for SPRING 2018 internships. All applicants will be contacted in early December.
*Various paid internships are occasionally offered depending on funding. Visit the Houston Zoo careers page for any available paid opportunities.
-“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!
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, large animal work for example).
Going above and beyond the classroom setting will prove your passion for this field! In non-animal care sections, look for 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 are valuable skills that are not career-specific.
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.
Vet Student Research Internship Descriptions
Please check back in December 2017 for future opportunities.
Want experience but an internship doesn’t fit?
Try volunteering! Visit our volunteer page for more information.
Questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org