General Information

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Utica Zoo Animal Care Internships

animal care internships

Animal Care Internships

*Summer 2021 internships filled. If interested, please reapply in the Spring of 2022 for Summer 2022 internships.*

Animal care interns assist with routine animal husbandry of over 200+ animals. This is a hands-on experience working alongside the animal care staff and involves a wide variety of duties. We are looking for responsible, hard-working individuals that desire to learn about the role of a zookeeper and their day to day activities.

Utica Zoo Animal Care Internships are 40 hrs/week for approximately 9 weeks. Interns will work under the direct supervision of the animal care staff and assist in all aspects of their daily activities.

This is a hands-on internship. Duties include but are not limited to cleaning, feeding, record keeping, enrichment, diet preparation, exhibit maintenance/construction, as well as assisting during veterinary procedures and education programming as instructed. This work is physically demanding.  Interns must be able to lift and carry a minimum of 50lbs as well as be prepared to work in various weather and environmental conditions. Interns will be required to do some public speaking and will have direct contact with visitors. Receipt of certificate is contingent upon completion of an intern project.

Intern positions are available in all animal areas and the animal commissary. Interns will be assigned to only one area for the duration of their internship but may have brief opportunities to experience different aspects of all areas through veterinary procedures or as other zoo-wide projects arise.

All interns are required to attend onsite classes conducted by Zoo Staff on various aspects of animal care including animal and keeper health, capture and restraint, enrichment and animal training, and other topics.

Animal Area Concentrations: (Animal areas are subject to change based on the needs of the facility)

Children’s Zoo: A variety of exotic and domestic species including barn owls, beavers, Patagonian cavies, alpaca, chickens, red fox, Pallas’ cat, pot-bellied pigs, Pueblan milk snake, domestic donkey, Jacob sheep, Nigerian dwarf goats and zebu; assist with daily sea lion presentations

REAR: Includes Bactrian camels, Trans-Caspian urial, Visayan warty pigs, Chinese muntjac, Bennett’s wallaby, white-napped crane,  emu, and a variety of reptiles including prehensile-tailed skink, pine snake, carpet python, Mexican beaded lizards, leaf-tailed geckos, and wood turtles. Interns will not handle venomous animals. 

NAW: Arctic fox, Canada lynx, Mexican wolves, red panda, painted dogs, African lion, striped hyena, Bennett’s wallaby, serval, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, ostrich, and bald eagles.

Ambassador Animals: Interns assist daily care of ambassador animals. This is a diverse collection including several species of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and small mammals. Besides assisting husbandry, interns will learn handling for social acclimation and short public presentations.

Commissary: Interns will learn about diet preparation, maintaining stock and inventory, nutrition review, some general recordkeeping, and data entry. Students assigned in this area will also assist in the care for any quarantine (new) animals in the collection.

Primate: Includes Mexican spider monkeys, white-handed gibbons, golden lion tamarins, cotton-top tamarins, and California sea lions. Also includes a variety of large reptiles including Chinese alligators, Burmese pythons, rhinoceros iguanas, and Sulcata tortoises.

Specialty Internships: The following areas of concentration are available as Specialty Internships. These areas are available to individuals who can demonstrate special skills in these disciplines. Individuals chosen for these assignments will also have opportunities to participate in other animal projects throughout the zoo as assigned. Not all of these positions may be filled.

Vet Services: This position works with the Staff Vet Technician and Registrar. With this opportunity, you will help with minor veterinary services (lab tests, routine preventative care, medical rounds, etc.) and to assist if requested when the Veterinarian is onsite. The ideal candidate will be enrolled in a vet technician program and/or will have some previous experience working as a vet assistant or technician (including as a volunteer).

Registrar internship: This position works with the Staff Vet Technician and Registrar. With this opportunity, you will learn general and medical recordkeeping and data entry of the zoo’s current and archival animal records. The role of registrar is essential to the organization with meticulous daily and archival recordings of what occurs in animals’ lives. The ideal candidate will have a proficiency for data entry, careful attention to detail and some understanding of the animal recordkeeping.

Behavioral Husbandry: This position works collaboratively with all of the keepers as well as the Staff Vet Technician and Registrar. With this opportunity, you will be given several projects involving behavioral observations and a detailed report thereof. Examples include observing for potential breeding behavior, use of exhibit space, or varying responses to crowd level, each with a summary of findings. The ideal candidate will have prior zoo internship experience, excellent observation skills, and patience, as well as be very self-motivated.

Animal Projects: This position works with the Animal Projects Manager learning to create and maintain essential animal needs or exhibit improvements. Examples include creating exhibit furniture, setting up and maintaining misting systems or any number of projects that enhance animals’ lives, helping keepers apply the best welfare standards. The ideal candidate will have a proficiency for working with hand tools in small carpentry, masonry and fence work projects.

Experience Required

Must be enrolled in or have graduated from college-level zoology, wildlife, environmental science, ecology, biology, or related field. Requirements: Must be able to work in any weather conditions. Must be able to lift 50lbs. Proof of a negative tuberculin test required (must be within 6 months of start date). Tetanus vaccination recommended.

Further Comments

All internships are unpaid. Interns are expected to provide their own housing and transportation (public transportation is limited in the area immediately around the zoo). However, some housing is available through Mohawk Valley Community College at special rates for the summer program. Please indicate if you are interested at the time of application. Note: Access to the staff veterinarian is limited; therefore, if your goal is to work with a veterinarian, this may not be the internship for you.



How to Apply

Application to a program requires both a resume and an appropriate cover letter. These documents should be sent via email to The cover letter should include your areas of interest, goals and what you can offer the zoo. Statement of area interest does not guarantee placement in that area. Interns will be placed in accordance with the needs of the zoo animal collection. The deadline for application is April 15th, however, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. No phone calls.

Utica Zoo
One Utica Zoo Way
Utica, NY 13501