Internships in Animal Care, Conservation, and Research

A group of interns during orientation. The internship program in the Animal Care, Conservation, and Research Department provide engaging learning experiences designed to inspire an ethic of stewardship in the next generation, stimulate interest in zoos as a viable career options, and to increase the diversity of professionals working in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) within zoos, aquariums, and in the wild.

Four Internship programs are offered: Animal Care, Conservation Interpretation, Welfare Research, and Animal Food Logistics. All interns work hand-in-hand with Oakland Zoo staff to gain knowledge and learn applicable skillsets in their chosen internship. To enhance and demonstrate their experience, interns complete a project to apply their knowledge within their internship program. Interns will also attend scheduled classes during the program to further increase their knowledge about all aspects of zoo animal management, welfare, and conservation.

Animal Care Internship

Interns in this area will work closely with animal keepers to develop their skills in managing the care, health, and welfare of a variety of zoo animals. Interns are exposed to all the husbandry techniques that it takes to care for the animals at the zoo. You will be given the opportunity to gain valuable skills, on-the-job training, and experience that will be a great asset to you in the future as you continue to pursue your career. It also offers valuable experience to those who are planning to pursue a job in the animal care field or to apply to vet school. Interns are assigned to one string per internship.

Conservation Interpretation Internship

Interns in this area will work closely with conservation staff to understand the operative aspects of a holistic wildlife conservation program. Interns will benefit from hands-on training in multiple aspects of conservation program management such as public conservation education, event production, partnership building, fundraising and research. Interns are exposed to strategic planning, conservation programming and field or on-site conservation as available. An enthusiasm for wildlife conservation and outreach is recommended.

Animal Welfare Research Internship

Interns in this area will work closely with research and keeper staff to understand aspects of applied research on a variety of zoo animals. Interns will benefit from hands-on experience in an active research program and training in data collection and analysis, problem solving, and project management. Interns will observe animal behavior, manage data systems, and assist data analysis to provide real-world animal management solutions. Previous experience in animal management or data collection is recommended, but not required.

Please note: All internships are unpaid and housing is the responsibility of the individual. International students are responsible for all legal and immigration.

Also Note: The application process for Internships is different than that of Animal Care Volunteers and the Behavioral Observation Team.

Requirements for all Internships

  • Be age 18 or older.
  • Must commit to volunteering full-days, between 16-24 hours per week. Your schedule will depend on your own availability and must be consistent for the duration of the internship.
  • Must complete 288 hours of service over a 12-18 week period. The duration of the program will vary depending on the number of hours per week that you volunteer.
  • They must be physically able to perform all duties assigned, which may include the ability to lift up to 50 pounds and pull/push 120 pounds, walk on uneven or wet surfaces, and work in various weather conditions.
  • Weekend and holiday work may be required.
  • Interns are required to work as a team and with minimal supervision.
  • Participants must adjust to changes the daily routines.
  • All interns should have an interest in animals, an ability to get along with others, a professional/neat demeanor, a drive to learn, and respect for safety.
  • Interns must take directions well and pay careful attention to procedures and established protocols.
  • They should follow instructions and carry out their responsibilities in a safe and careful manner in order to avoid injury to themselves, to employees, to visitors, and to the animals.
Internship Timetable

There are three intern sessions available each year:
Fall: September - December. Application Deadline - 7/15
Winter: January - April. Application Deadline - 11/15
Summer*: May - September (start date is flexible between May 15 - June 25). Application Deadline - 3/15
*Due to the considerable differences between the end dates for semester and quarter-system schools, allowance is given for individual start dates for the summer session.

Five Steps to becoming an ACCR Intern!

Step 1: Submit an ACCR Intern Packet: Ensure you meet all the requirements of becoming an ACCR Intern, then download and complete the Oakland Zoo Intern Application. You will be asked to rank the programs that you are interested, however if you are not interested in one or more of the programs, please leave that choice blank. Please note that some of the programs have very limited capacity. Please attach a cover letter explaining why you are applying (limit 500 words), a résumé or copy of your transcript, and two letters of recommendation. Submit your entire application packet or via email to or mail to: Oakland Zoo Volunteer Program, P.O. Box 5238, Oakland, CA 94605. Email submissions are preferred.

Step 2: Attend an ACCR Intern Interview: Those selected for internships are individually scheduled for phone interviews.

Step 3: Provide proof of vaccinations and program fees: Candidates selected for the program will receive an acceptance email. Once an applicant is accepted in the program, a $50.00 program fee is required as well as proof of a negative tuberculosis test (within the last year) as well as a tetanus shot (within the last ten years).

Step 4: Animal Care Intern Orientation: Intern orientations are held several weeks after the acceptance to the program, and are typically two to three hours long. During the orientation you will learn about the Animal Care, Conservation, and Research Department, volunteer policies and procedures, and be given time for a self-guided tour of the Zoo. At this time, we will also collect the non-refundable volunteer fees and issue uniforms, relevant guidelines and protocols, and other related information regarding your internship.

Step 5: Enjoy your Internship! Once you have attended the Internship Orientation, you begin training and working with your assigned ACCR staff member.

Please email us or call (510) 632-9525 x169 if you have more questions about our ACCR Internship Program. Email is the preferred form of communication for the program coordinators.