Internships are a valuable way to gain hands-on work experience and insight into a specific profession or industry. Although internships are generally done in exchange for college course credit, paid internships are also available, providing either an hourly wage or a stipend. For those interested in a career relating to animal welfare, there are many possible avenues of work, and many internship opportunities to match. Some directly involve interaction with animals in a hands-on setting, while others are focused on advocacy, education, and public policy on behalf of animal rights. The following list of paid internships are all perfectly suited for individuals who are concerned with bettering the lives of animals through their studies or careers.
ASPCA Government Relations Paid Internship (Washington, D.C.)
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is a privately funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Recognized as a prominent leader in the fight for animal welfare, it centers its mission in three main areas: animal rescue, placement, and protection.
The organization offers an internship position within the ASPCA Government Relations Department. The internship is open to undergraduate and graduate students, but recent graduates may also be considered. In particular, it seeks individuals who desire a career related to animal welfare, law, or public policy.
The semester-long program provides an inside view of what is necessary to make legal progress regarding legislature preventing animal cruelty. Interns attend meetings and Capitol Hill events, perform research, draft letters and documents, and are mentored by professional lawyers and lobbyists. Course credit is available, and a minimum hourly wage is paid to interns not seeking course credit.
Prairie Dog Coalition Field Work Internship (Location Varies)
The Prairie Dog Coalition (PDC) is part of The Humane Society, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The decline of wild prairie dog populations, and the degradation of their natural habitats led to the formation of the PDC, which is an alliance of nonprofits, individuals, and professionals.
This hands-on internship provides an opportunity to learn about prairie dog conservation while performing field work. The wide range of duties includes proper handling of prairie dogs, learning how to set traps, marking and release, monitoring, observation, and data collection. In addition, interns may attend public meetings and speak with local government officials.
The internship takes place on-site at a prairie dog habitat, with the specific location determined yearly. The term lasts 3-4 months and requires a weekly 40 hour commitment, with payment provided via a stipend.
Farm Animal Protection Public Policy Internship (Gaithersburg, MD)
The Campaigns Department is an essential component of The Human Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Through the work of the Campaigns Department, the organization tackles issues related to animal welfare by pushing for protective legislature, creating public awareness, partnering with corporations, and investigating instances of animal cruelty. The Farm Animal Protection Campaign aims to address issues specifically related to animal farming, with the goal of ending the inhumane practices.
The McGrath Public Policy internship is open to individuals who are passionate about protecting farm animals. Interns learn how to approach public policy and legislation related to animal welfare, while performing a variety of duties. Responsibilities include completing an internal campaigns course, attending campaign meetings, studying farm welfare issues, performing research, canvassing, creating reports, and engaging in practice media interviews. The terms lasts for 12 weeks with a 35-39 hour weekly commitment, and offers minimum wage.
Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm (Dayton, OH)
The National Audubon Society is a nonprofit conservation organization. It devotes its mission to the protection of birds and their natural environments. The organization has been in operation for more than a century, and now boasts 23 state programs, 41 centers, and over 450 local chapters nationwide. Aullwood is an Audubon center, farm, and sanctuary in western Ohio, offering many opportunities for the public to visit and learn more about bird conservation and environmental sustainability.
Aullwood offers paid internship opportunities through the Audubon Wings Internship Program. The Animal Care Internship and Education Internship both offer direct work with animals on-site. The Animal Care intern primarily handles the care of the farm animals, while the Education intern primarily cares for the small animals residing at the Nature Center. Responsibilities include day-to-day animal chores and maintenance of their living environments, teaching visiting school groups, developing lesson plans for youth summer camps, assisting with special events and fundraisers, interacting with guests, and working on the educational garden. These paid internships are approximately 6.5 months long and require full-time hours. The program offers free furnished housing onsite with utilities included, and payment is offered as an hourly wage.
The Humane Society’s Campus Food and Nutrition Internship (Location Varies)
The Humane Society (a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization) approaches the fight for animal welfare from many angles. As part of its Farm Animal Protection Campaign, it has partnered with the Food and Nutrition Division, which provides outreach with its Food Forward Program. The goal of the Food Forward Program is to help large institutions implement more plant-based items into their menus, reducing the consumption of meat from factory farming.
The Campus Food and Nutrition internship is a unique paid position available to current college students. Specific schools have been designated as desirable target sites, but other institutions are also open for consideration. The intern has a hands-on role within their own campus, conducting audits and research about plant-based options within their institution, creating educational materials, and meeting with dining service representatives. The intern also attends remote video conference meetings, completes an online campaign course, and has the option to attend nearby events related to the internship. As a remote intern, the semester-long schedule is flexible, averaging 5-10 hours weekly. Payment is minimum wage.
Honey Hill Farm Paid Animal Science Internship (Kansas City, MO / Mason, OH / Sandusky, OH / Muskegon, MI)
Honey Hill Farm is a mobile petting zoo that advocates putting animal welfare before profits. The rural 150-acre farm in Kentucky provides a home to a variety of farm animals, who are loved as pets and not raised as livestock. The farm offers a completely mobile family-friendly petting zoo experience that can be requested for fundraisers, parties, and other events. At the core of its mission, Honey Hill Farm aims to create positive and nurturing interactions for both people and animals.
The paid Animal Science internship position allows for a hands-on experience with a variety of farm animals. Interns provide direct animal care, interact with guests, and help maintain a clean and safe environment. Although previous livestock experience is preferred, the internship is open to any animal lovers who are reliable, enthusiastic, and ready to work hard in all kinds of weather. The position is paid hourly, and multiple locations are available for employment.
The Lidner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), located at the Cincinnati Zoo, has the mission of saving species with science. CREW develops Signature Conservation Projects, which aid in wildlife conservation while making sure that funds are used properly. The center is recognized for its programs centered on rhinos, polar bears, and imperiled cats.
CREW offers a paid internship in the Animal Research Division, specifically within the Polar Bear Signature Species Project. It’s open to recent post-bachelor graduates or to current graduate students who seek a career related to wildlife studies. This lab-intensive internship provides the opportunity to work side-by-side with scientists in a professional laboratory setting, contribute to research projects, process fecal samples, and maintain lab upkeep. The full-time internship has a 6-month duration, and pays a monthly $600 stipend.
Avian Care Internship at MSU’s Kellogg Bird Sanctuary (Augusta, MI)
The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary is part of the W.B. Kellogg Biological Station (KBS), an off-campus educational complex owned by Michigan State University (MSU). The Bird Sanctuary offers tours, walking trails, and public programs where visitors can see and learn about a variety of bird species, as well as the conservation efforts to protect their surrounding habitats.
The KBS Internship Program is offered to MSU students as a summer session, including an Avian Care Internship position at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. The responsibilities of the Avian Care intern are 70% focused on wildlife care, including basic animal husbandry for a variety of avian species, capture and handling, veterinary tasks, environmental maintenance, and monitoring. The intern will also lead guided tours, create educational materials, assist with web and social media content, and attend related events. As a final component of the experience, the intern will complete an Avian Care Project related to the needs of local birds. All students participating in the KBS Internship Program are provided with a $2,500 stipend, plus free room and board.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at North Carolina Zoo (Asheboro, NC)
The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (WRC) at the North Carolina Zoo specializes in free rehabilitation and veterinary care for native North Carolina wildlife animals in need. Staffed primarily by zoo personnel and trained veterinarians, the center cares for over 800 animals yearly that are sick, injured, or orphaned, with the goal of rehabilitating them for return to the wild.
A paid internship position is offered at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, lasting a full year with a weekly 40 hour commitment (including days, nights, and holidays). The paid intern supervises and guides volunteers, and assists with day-to-day care of the animal patients. Duties include food prep, cleaning, feeding, animal handling, record keeping, assisting with medical procedures, and basic office tasks. Additionally, interns may participate in rescues, cage building, and other special projects. On-site housing is provided free of charge to paid interns.
OIE World Organization for Animal Health (Paris, France)
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) is an intergovernmental organization concerned with improving animal health and welfare, veterinary public health, and raising awareness regarding global animal disease. Founded in the early 2000s, the OIE has reached a wide international scope, now comprised of 182 member countries across all continents.
The OIE offers a paid Editorial Communication internship, which has a writing-heavy focus within an office setting. Duties include creating written content for web and print, developing brochures, pamphlets, and infographics, writing key messages, updating website content, contributing to the newsletter, and other related tasks. The full-time position is open to graduates and current students with a focus on veterinary studies, international communications, or political science. The internship takes place at OIE Headquarters in Paris, and pays a monthly stipend.
Animal Care Internship at the Wildlife In Need Center (Oconomowoc, WI)
The Wildlife In Need Center (WINC) provides treatment and rehabilitation to sick, injured, and orphaned animals, preparing them for return and release to the wild. Every year, the center treats more than 3,000 individual animals in over 140 different species, and answers more than 10,000 phone calls from individuals needing help and information regarding wildlife issues. Additionally, the center provides education programs for the public, works with community groups and volunteers, and operates entirely on fundraising from donors and grants.
The WINC offers a paid full-time summer Animal Care internship, totaling 40 hours weekly. The Animal Care intern performs a variety of duties, all while learning about natural history and the anatomy of different species. Responsibilities include providing basic care to animal patients, assisting with supervised medical tasks, maintaining clean and sanitary habitats, helping with rescues and wildlife transportation, and record keeping. Payment is provided via a stipend based on performance and hours worked, and course credit can also be arranged.
Gulf World Marine Park Internships (Panama City Beach, FL)
Gulf World Marine Park provides a home to many diverse aquatic animals, and is open to the public for daily shows, educational programs, and interactions. It contributes heavily to the Gulf World Marine Institute, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that focuses on rescue and rehabilitation for sea mammals and turtles.
The paid Marine Mammal Internships are advanced animal care positions, providing the opportunity to work with either dolphins or sea lions. Duties include habitat upkeep, food preparation, water testing, educating guests during interactive experiences, aiding with shows and presentations, and assisting with training, handling, and animal husbandry. The paid internship is a 3-4 month term, with a commitment of 40 hours weekly.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center Internships (Glen Rose, TX)
At Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, over 1,100 animals from more than 50 species take refuge at the spacious 1,800-acre park, including indigenous and exotic animal species that are threatened or endangered. The organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, specializing in wildlife conservation through captive breeding programs.
The center offers a variety of animal-related internship programs, which include: the Rhino Internship, the Prairie Grouse Conservation Internship, The Whitfield Collins Carnivore Internship, the Children’s Animal Center Internship, the Conservation Education Internship, and the Behavioral Research- Hoofstock Intern. Duties vary according to specific role, but each internship experience includes hands-on interaction with animals and guests. Responsibilities may include making behavioral observations, health monitoring, food prep, cleaning and maintenance, performing or assisting with various vet procedures, and completing reports. Some also include facilitating onsite breeding programs. In addition to normal duties, each intern also completes an individual project of their own design. The internships last for a 4-month term, and require full-time hours. Housing is provided free of charge, and course credit is available. Payment is provided via a monthly $300 stipend.
Kentucky Reptile Zoo Internship Program (Slade, KY)
The Kentucky Reptile Zoo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated entirely to reptile species. The unique reptile zoo has a 3-part mission: offering reptile education to the public through exhibits and outreach, supporting ongoing reptile conservation and study, and supplying venom for medical research and the production of life-saving anti-venom.
The zoo offers a hands-on internship program that rotates seasonally, with each internship lasting 12-16 weeks. Interns assist with many areas, including engaging in public outreach and education, day-to-day maintenance of the facility, caring for the captive reptile species, and regular handling of reptiles and snakes (excluding venomous species), all while working alongside professional herpetologists. Additionally, each intern has the option to complete one or more independent herpetology research projects for course credit. The program boasts that its past interns have gone on to successfully gain employment at labs, zoos, and research facilities. Housing and laundry are provided free of charge, and payment is provided via a modest weekly stipend.
The International Exotic Animal Sanctuary, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is twofold: to provide proper care for its resident animals, and to educate the public about wildlife rehabilitation and conservation. The sanctuary is a permanent home to a variety of exotic and indigenous wild species that were previously abused, neglected, or confiscated. Included are tigers, lions, jaguars, cougars, and black bears. To provide public outreach, the sanctuary also educates through tours, lectures, school programs, and other public/media appearances to teach the importance of conservation.
The sanctuary offers an intensive internship program, selecting up to 8 individuals at a time. The focus of the internship is basic animal husbandry, which includes thorough training and hands-on work. The program allows interns to gain experience with habitat construction and modification, animal health and management, behavioral studies, feeding, cleaning, and record keeping. In addition, interns have the option to participate in the Emotional Enrichment Program in order to learn extensively about animal behavior, and how to aid resident animals in becoming familiar with human caretakers.
The internships last for a 3-month term, and require an intensive schedule. Participants must commit to a 6-day work week, averaging 50-70 hours weekly. Vehicles and housing are provided free of charge, and payment is provided via a modest weekly stipend. The living amenities include furnished housing, group common areas, a fully stocked kitchen, laundry room, and free linens.