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The Houston Zoo invites college students and aspiring professionals to participate in unpaid internships at our AZA accredited facility.



Internships are closed at this time

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.

All internships are cancelled through 2021.

Internships Offered

All internships are cancelled through 2021. Below is a list of internships for departments at the Houston Zoo without an animal husbandry focus.

Applications are currently closed for 2021. Internships for our Veterinary Research Clinic are offered only in the Summer.

The Houston Zoo offers Veterinary Conservation Research Internships each summer in Avian Conservation, Amphibian Conservation, and EEHV. Applicants MUST have successfully completed at least one year of education at an accredited veterinary college by May 2021 to be eligible. Candidates should have a passion for zoo or wildlife medicine and an interest in research and scientific writing. Internships are unpaid.

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, amphibians, and others relevant species. Research internships will follow the same expectations and application fees as General Internships as referenced above. Apply by the timeline indicated.

General Internship Requirements

Age and field of study

  • 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

Background Check

Accepted interns must pass a criminal background check at their own cost of $37, with potential additional fees according to your address history. 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.

Additional Background Check Fees

Application and Program Requirements

  • Any applicable university or college credit (or additional requirements) must be arranged by the student through their institution and presented to Zoo staff during interviews
  • 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
  • Interns are required to provide proof of a negative TB test (valid for the duration of the internship)
  • 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 documents above for animal care, non-animal care, or vet research programs)
  • Give a 15 minute final presentation for their department

Things to Know

  • T-shirts and name tags will be $40. This is in addition to background check costs.
  • All housing and transportation must be arranged by the intern
  • Completion of an internship does not guarantee full-time or part-time job placement at the Houston Zoo
  • Most internships are unpaid as they are designed to complement academic training.  Paid internships are occasionally offered depending on funding; visit the Houston Zoo Careers page for any available paid opportunities.

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. Don’t let your cover letter just re-tell what your resume already says. Use it to let us know something personal about you that sets you apart from other candidates. A challenge you have overcome, a project you started or participated in, or how you see yourself utilizing this opportunity are all great ways to let us see what an amazing candidate you are!

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.”

-“Interning at the Houston Zoo was an educational, impactful experience that has given me applicable career experience.”

-“This was a great opportunity for learning, choosing a career path, networking, enhancing communication skills, and getting to work with awesome animals.”

-“It was a great, informative, multidimensional experience where I was educated by people with a passion for conservation and animal care.”

Want experience but an internship doesn’t fit?

Try volunteering! Visit our volunteer page for more information.
Questions? Contact us at