Internships

COLLEGE INTERNSHIPS

Opened in 1934, Brookfield Zoo is managed by the Chicago Zoological Society and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Chicago Zoological Society is committed to developing people’s capacities and competencies, serving as a mentor and trainer, providing experiential learning opportunities to individuals seeking to understand, develop, and establish careers in the fields of zoology and conservation.

In fulfilling this role, the Society has a long-standing internship program that has been recognized as one of the top programs for college students in the country. The program, established in 1975, was one of the first in the nation to allow students pursuing careers in animal care the opportunity to work side by side with professional zookeepers, learning the skills and techniques necessary to manage exotic zoo animals. Since that time, the internship program has evolved to include work study and research opportunities in a variety of areas and fields.

       

ANIMAL CARE

Animal Care Specialist internships are available with a variety of animals: Large animals, domestics, small mammals, aviculture (birds), reptiles, ungulates (hoofstock), amphibians, marine mammals, aquatics, and zoo nutrition. Specific opportunities vary term to term based on department needs. 

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specialty

It takes more than expert animal care to run the Chicago Zoological Society. From our award-winning education programs, to marketing, to event planning and fundraising, the zoo is made up of many teams with a wide variety of talents. Specialty internships are a great way to gain experience in a uniquely professional and conservation-focused setting.

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Vet Tech

Students currently pursuing a veterinary technician certificate that are interested in working within the zoo and aquatics field are invited to apply for placement in the zoo's veterinary hospital. Specific opportunities vary term to term.
Fox College and Joliet Junior College vet tech students may apply for spring term to coincide with their spring semester; all other applicants are welcome to apply for the fall term.

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sarasota dolphin research program

The Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP), based at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, conducts the world’s longest-running study of a dolphin population. This interdisciplinary team studies bottlenose dolphins within Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Naples/Marco Island, and the Gulf of Mexico coastal waters. 

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current internship opportunities 

Animal Care Specialist

Currently accepting applications for: Summer 2024
Applications due: February 1
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of Placements: Varies by area

IMPORTANT: 
Placements are currently available in the areas listed to the right. Click here to learn more about each area's specific details and requirements. On your application, you can select up to three (3) animal care areas for placement consideration.

Animal Welfare Research

Currently accepting applications for: January - June 2024
Applications due: February 1
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of Placements: 1-2

This position contributes to the success of CZS by conducting behavioral research within a zoological setting focused on specific aspects of animal welfare. Interns will learn the processes used by researchers in the area of specialization. These internships are designed for individuals interested in research careers in the areas of emphasis or related areas. In particular, students that plan to pursue graduate degrees in any of the areas listed above may find the internship to be a valuable experience.

IMPORTANT: 
This six month, part-time placement provides hands-on experience working with animal behavior projects on a variety of species.

Successful applicants often have: Backgrounds in research, education, biology, zoology, data analysis, or data collecting; genuine interest in science, math, animals, and data analysis.

COMMUNITY ADVOCACY INTERNSHIP

Currently accepting applications for: Summer 2024
Applications due: April 1
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of Placements: 1

This position contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by generating consistent, positive exposure for CZS—extending the zoo’s mission to the communities it serves.

IMPORTANT: 
This 12-week, part-time placement involves collaborating with Government Affairs and Education teams support partnership outreach and communication through special guest visits, event planning and execution, and response to various requests from elected officials, community engagement partners, and other non-profit entities. Additionally, this internship will focus on researching and identifying partnerships, creating proposals, and engaging diverse stakeholders in conservation advocacy. Participation in community outreach will help raise awareness of programs and opportunities offered by the Chicago Zoological Society and Brookfield Zoo. Interns will also complete an independent project tailored to individual strengths and interests, along with other assigned duties and opportunities.

Successful applicants often have: High School diploma or equivalent preferred. Consideration will be extended to high school-aged individuals currently enrolled in, and within good standing with, the King Conservation Science Scholars program.

Development Services

Currently accepting applications for: Winter 2024
Applications due: January 15
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid, part-time
Number of Placements: 1

This position contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by working with the Advancement department to support and participate in the integrated plan to secure and increase financial and philanthropic support from corporations to maximize potential support, as well as further efforts to build major philanthropic support for the Society. This may include corporate grants, sponsorships, corporate memberships, and additional corporate contributions. This also includes identification, cultivation, and implementation of solicitation strategies for corporations.

IMPORTANT: 
This six month, part-time placement provides hands-on experience working with animal behavior projects on a variety of species.

Successful applicants often have: Backgrounds in research, education, biology, zoology, data analysis, or data collecting; genuine interest in science, math, animals, and data analysis.

EDUCATION CURATORIAL INTERNSHIP

Currently accepting applications for: Summer 2024
Applications due: February 1
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of Placements: 2-3

This position contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by maintaining the integrity of the Society’s extensive collection of biofacts (biological/animal artifacts) and working with education program managers to design, test, and implement programming that incorporates biofacts into new and existing curricula. This internship is for individuals interested in the career opportunities of informal STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) education, primarily focusing on authentic application of strategies related to instructional research and development and approaches to inclusive community engagement.

IMPORTANT: 
This 12-week, part-time placement is for individuals interested in the career opportunities of informal STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) education, primarily focusing on authentic application of strategies related to instructional research and development and approaches to inclusive community engagement.

Successful applicants often have: Backgrounds in education, biology, liberal arts, library science, museum studies, or other relevant field or equivalent combination of related training and experience.

EDUCATION DATA ANALYSIS & INTERPRETATION

Currently accepting applications for: Summer 2024
Applications due: February 1
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of Placements: 1

This position contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by generating consistent, positive exposure for the Society through community engagement in experiential learning opportunities that extend the Society’s mission to the communities it serves. This internship is for individuals interested in the career opportunities of informal S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) education, primarily focusing on authentic application of strategies related to instructional research and development and approaches to inclusive community engagement.

IMPORTANT: 
This 12-week, part-time placement is for individuals interested in the career opportunities of informal STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) education, primarily focusing on authentic application of strategies related to instructional research and development and approaches to inclusive community engagement.

Successful applicants often have: Experience with research in lab, field, or other setting are preferred; coursework in research skills, biology, animal behavior, ecology, or related field may be substituted.

EDUCATION RESEARCH & EVALUATION

Currently accepting applications for: Summer 2024
Applications due: February 1
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of Placements: 1

This position contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by helping to evaluate a variety of services and programs offered by Brookfield Zoo, such as guest engagement, level of guest satisfaction, success of programming, and our guests’ connections to animals and nature.

IMPORTANT: 
This 12-week, part-time (min. 240 hours) placement is for individuals interested in helping to evaluate a variety of services and programs offered by Brookfield Zoo, such as guest engagement, level of guest satisfaction, success of programming, and our guests’ connections to animals and nature.

Successful applicants often have: Backgrounds in research, education, analysis, or data collecting; genuine interest in science, math, and data analysis.

ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

Currently accepting applications for: Summer 2024
Applications due: February 1
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of Placements: 1

This position contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by providing seasonal support for the Environmental Quality Manager. This position will work to monitor the various environments provided for animals at the Zoo using a variety of instrumentation and techniques. They will also report the findings (and any potential issues) to the appropriate AP Managers and staff. This includes, but is not limited to, routine water quality sampling and analysis for all re-circulating aquatic systems, routine air sampling and analysis of areas of the zoo that may present health issues for animals, the analysis and assessment of artificial UV lighting used for indoor exhibits, and the routine use of a toolkit designed to assess outdoor exhibits to determine if enough shade or heat has been provided.

Successful applicants often have: Backgrounds in biology, Earth science, zoology, marine biology, aquatics; genuine interest in science, animals, and conservation.

SARASOTA DOLPHIN RESEARCH PROGRAM

Currently accepting applications for: Summer 2024
Applications due: February 1
Location: Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, Florida
Pay Rate: Stipend
Number of Placements: Varies by term

The Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP) conducts the world’s longest-running study of a dolphin population. Interns should expect to spend about 20% of their time in the field, and about 80% of their time in the lab working with data, or performing equipment maintenance. Successful candidates will participate in dolphin population monitoring, prey and habitat use, and other ongoing research projects.

Interns will be provided a $3,000 stipend to help offset the cost of travel, housing and personal/incidental expenses associated with the internship. Interns will receive no remuneration for any duties or assignments they may perform during the internship.

VET TECH

Currently accepting applications for: Spring 2024
Applications due: February 1
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of Placements: Varies by area

This position contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by providing technical and medical support to the veterinary staff for the care provided to the animal collection and hospitalized patients.
 

IMPORTANT: 
Through partnerships with Joliet Junior College and Fox Community College, currently enrolled vet tech students are eligible for an externship with Brookfield Zoo's animal hospital. The exact dates of the experience are flexible to accommodate school schedules and class requirements but the externship experience will take place during the spring semester.

Animal Care Teams Currently Accepting Applications: 

- Animal Ambassadors
- Australia House
Hamill Family Play Zoo / Wild Encounters
- Avian Husbandry & Care
- Giraffes & Pachyderms
- Habitat Africa! The Forest
- Hoofstock
- Herpetology & Aquatics
- Fishes
- Marine Mammals
- Tropic World (Primates)

 

This list is subject to change without notice based on the changing needs and projects in each area. All animal areas are listed on the application and you are welcome to apply for an area not listed here in the event that something does become available by the application deadline.
 

Additional Details: Animal Welfare Research


Primary Duties & Responsibilities
1. Work with the Animal Care and Welfare research team on techniques necessary to conduct behavioral research.
2. Collect behavioral data on a number of species.
3. Assist in all aspects of planning, executing, and analyzing behavioral research data.
4. Complete an independent project focusing on animal welfare with objectives and details to be determined with CZS mentor during the course of the internship, based on individual strengths, interests, and professional pursuits. (20%)
5. Other related duties as assigned. (10%)


Requirements & Specifications
- Minimum two years of college at an accredited institution; G.P.A. 2.5/4.0, majoring in biology, psychology, ecology, endocrinology, animal science, or other directly relevant field. Applicants who have demonstrated experience with research in lab, field or other setting are preferred. Coursework in research skills, biology, animal behavior, ecology, or related field may be substituted.
- Excellent communications and interpersonal skills (verbal, written, and listening)
- Strong computer skills required including: Windows; Microsoft products such as PowerPoint, Word, Outlook, and Excel; some familiarity with videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom and/or Microsoft Teams preferred.

 

Additional Details: Education Curatorial


Primary Duties & Responsibilities
1. With members of the Education and Community Engagement team, catalog the departmental collection of biological artifacts and related materials. This includes, but is not limited to: conducting research about the specimens, aligning resources in the collection with animals currently under managed care by CZS, and helping to maintain the system that tracks internal use of the artifacts. (30%)
2. With the Sr. Manager, King Conservation Leadership Academy, develop inclusive, experiential learning opportunities that utilize biological artifacts to engage a diverse range of individuals. The goals of these activities are to help learners: understand connections between them, their lives, and their environment; foster empathy for living things; and take action that leads to a sustainable relationship with nature. (20%)
3. With the Sr. Manager, King Conservation Leadership Academy, and members of the community engagement team, deliver inclusive, experiential learning opportunities that utilize biological artifacts to engage a diverse range of individuals. This is done both on-site at Brookfield Zoo, as well as in targeted communities within the Chicagoland area. (20%
4. Complete an independent project with objectives and details to be determined with CZS mentor during the course of the internship, based on individual strengths, interests, and professional pursuits. (20%)
5. Other related duties as assigned. (10%)


Requirements & Specifications
- High School diploma or equivalent preferred. Consideration will be extended to high school-aged individuals currently enrolled in, and within good standing with, the King Conservation Science Scholars program.
- Current enrollment in, or recent completion of, a collegiate program in communication, education, biology, liberal arts, library science, museum studies, or other relevant field or equivalent combination of related training and experience preferred.
- English fluency (reading, writing, speaking) and strong interpersonal skills required; multilingual ability, Spanish, preferred.
- All interns are required to complete either a final project or daily journal as part of their experience. See Additional Information below for more details.

 

Additional Details: Education Data Analyst


Primary Duties & Responsibilities
1. With members of the Education and Community Engagement team at Brookfield Zoo and the Punta San Juan Program (PSJP) research team in Marcona, Peru, review and catalog visual field data to monitor the biodiversity of the marine-coastal ecosystem of the Humboldt Current in Peru. (40%)
2. With managerial members of the Education and Community Engagement team at Brookfield Zoo, develop inclusive, experiential learning opportunities that utilize visual field data to engage a diverse range of individuals. The goals of these activities are to help learners: understand connections between them, their lives, and their environment; foster empathy for living things; and take action that leads to a sustainable relationship with nature. These activities will be used by CZS and PSJP staff to develop confidence in individuals to participate in citizen science activities. (30%)
4. Complete an independent project with objectives and details to be determined with CZS mentor during the course of the internship, based on individual strengths, interests, and professional pursuits. (20%)
3. Other related duties as assigned. (10%)


Requirements & Specifications
- High School diploma or equivalent preferred. Consideration will be extended to high school-aged individuals currently enrolled in, and within good standing with, the King Conservation Science Scholars program.
- Current enrollment in, or recent completion of, a collegiate program in communication, education, biology, liberal arts, library science, museum studies, or other relevant field or equivalent combination of related training and experience preferred.
- English fluency (reading, writing, speaking) and strong interpersonal skills required; multilingual ability, Spanish, preferred.
- All interns are required to complete either a final project or daily journal as part of their experience. See Additional Information below for more details.

 

Additional Details: Education Research & Evaluation


Primary Duties & Responsibilities
1.  Responsibilities may include involvement in various steps in qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods, case study research and/or evaluation in informal science education. (30%)
2. Responsibilities may include literature reviews of related studies and theoretical frameworks for social science research; compiling public records; researching and compiling newspaper records; composition of rationales for survey items and interview questions; data collection with human subjects; data entry; data analysis; and/or participation in preparation of reports and results dissemination. (35%)
4. Responsibilities may include non-research activities such as those related to project management of the implementation of complex educational programs. (25%)
3. Other related duties as assigned. (10%)


Requirements & Specifications
- Minimum of 1 semester of college with genuine interest in science, education, social sciences, statistics, evaluation, or related field.
- Good interpersonal, communications, and organizational skills with an eye for detail and accuracy; able to follow direction and juggle multiple priorities.
- Computer and data entry experience required; Proficiency in Microsoft Office 2016 or higher, especially Word, Excel, and Outlook. PowerPoint proficiency preferred.
- Excellent customer service, strong verbal communication skills, excellent writing skills, teamwork, flexibility, and reliability; Must be able to commit to a minimum of 240 hours over the internship period.
- All interns are required to complete either a final project or daily journal as part of their experience.
 

Additional Details: Environmental Quality


Primary Duties & Responsibilities
1.  Water Quality Testing, Data Entry, and Reporting (75%) 
2. Routine Maintenance of Instrumentation and Laboratory (10%)
3. Assist the Environmental Quality Manager with other Environmental Quality Monitoring (10%) 
4. Other related duties as assigned. (10%)


Requirements & Specifications
- Enrollment in or completion of BA or BS in Biology, Ecology, Zoology, Environmental Science, or other directly relevant field, or equivalent combination of training and experience.
- Familiarity with basic aquarium chemistry and testing methods preferred.
- Must interact positively with zoo guests, and represent CZS in a professional manner at all times.
- Intern must be comfortable in a dynamic, mission- and value-driven organization with an evolving culture.  Individuals must have a high level of energy, be self-motivated, and have a commitment to professional excellence.
- All interns are required to complete either a final project or daily journal as part of their experience.
 

Additional Details: Vet Tech


Primary Duties & Responsibilities
1.  Assists the Veterinary Services Department and the Chicago Zoological Society in creating innovations and excellence in conservation leadership and animal welfare.  
2. Other related duties as assigned. (10%)


Requirements & Specifications
- Currently enrolled in an accredited Veterinary Technician program.
- Student must represent the Society in a professional manner at all times.
- Veterinary technicians are frequently subjected to potential hazards that include direct contact with or close proximity to live animals. Student must possess knowledge of occupational hazards and safe work practices around such hazards. These positions are physically demanding, and student may be subjected to a variety of physical demands and environmental factors and exposures.
 

Additional Details: Development Services


Primary Duties & Responsibilities
1.  Research and Identify Prospective Corporate Partnerships: (15%)
2.  Create Partnership Proposals (15%)

3.  Support Partnership Outreach and Communication (45%)
4.  Coordinate Meetings and Presentations (10%)
5.  Assist in Partnership Activation and Fulfillment (5%)
6.  Assist in Event Planning and Execution (10%)


Requirements & Specifications
- At least one year of college credit; graduate students preferred.
- English fluency (reading, writing, speaking) and strong interpersonal skills required; multilingual ability, Spanish, preferred.
- Candidates should be able to maintain a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and desire to learn; Candidates should possess the ability to work cohesively in a team or be trusted to work independently.
- Applicants should be available to work during the entire term of the internship, some evening or weekend hours may be required.
 

Additional Details: Community Advocacy Internship


Primary Duties & Responsibilities
1. With Government Affairs staff and members of the Education and Community Engagement team, support partnership outreach and communication through special guest visits, event planning and execution, and response to various requests from elected officials, community engagement partners, and other non-profit entities. (30%)
2.  With Government Affairs staff and members of the Education and Community Engagement team, research and identify prospective partnerships that mutually highlight the assets of the Brookfield Zoo and the communities served – assisting in the creation of proposals to strategically engage and mobilize communities of diverse stakeholders in conservation-minded advocacy and support community relation goals. (20%)

3.  With Government Affairs staff and members of the Education and Community Engagement team, participate in community outreach that brings awareness to the programs, events, and opportunities available through the Chicago Zoological Society and Brookfield Zoo. This is done both on-site, as well as in targeted communities within the Chicagoland area. (20%)
4.  Complete an independent project with objectives and details to be determined with CZS mentor during the course of the internship, based on individual strengths, interests, and professional pursuits. (20%)
5.  Other related duties as assigned. (10%)

Requirements & Specifications
- High School diploma or equivalent preferred. Consideration will be extended to high school-aged individuals currently enrolled in, and within good standing with, the King Conservation Science Scholars program.
- Valid driver’s license required.
- Current enrollment in, or recent completion of, a collegiate program in communication, education, biology, liberal arts, library science, museum studies, environmental law, political science, public administration, or other relevant field or equivalent combination of related training and experience preferred.
- English fluency (reading, writing, speaking) and strong interpersonal skills required; multilingual ability, Spanish, preferred.
- All interns are required to complete either a final project or daily journal as part of their experience. See Additional Information below for more details.