Internships | Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Internships

Program participants will gain meaningful experience and basic knowledge in their primary area of study by gaining a broader view of a modern zoological park via practical hands-on experience, assisting the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium's professional staff with daily operations, and completing an optional research project. In addition, the Zoo will benefit from the effort, infusion of new ideas, and vitality of the program participants. This program offers an excellent opportunity for students and graduates to develop their basic abilities, further refine advanced skills and enhance their career goals.

All interns must pass a criminal background check. Cost is $10 for Pennsylvania residents. Cost varies for residents of other states. All Zoo internships are unpaid.

Animal Husbandry Internships

An internship in animal husbandry is meant to expose the intern to the many aspects of working as an animal keeper. The internship will serve as both a means to gain experience and as a way of making a career decision.

Animal keeper interns may be required to work in inclement weather, lift heavy loads, and must be dependable. The duties of the intern reflect the duties of the area animal keeper. Those duties include the following: Observation of animals for disease, injuries, unusual behavior, pregnancy, etc. and reporting observations to the appropriate parties and/or noting on Daily Report Sheet; prepare and distribute food and water; grooming of domestic animals; may be involved in training programs; assist in veterinary procedures; collect biological specimens; assist in animal restraint procedures; maintain proper environmental conditions for the animals; clean and disinfect animal enclosures; exercise or handle the Education Department's animals and domestic animals; secure locks; answer visitor questions, narrate animal demonstrations, and other duties as assigned.

Program participants will experience hands-on and/or project work in one or more of the following animal departments: PPG Aquarium, Ungulate/Giraffe, Tropical Forest (primates), Worlds of Discovery (reptiles & red pandas), Asian Forest (leopards, tiger, waterfowl), African Savanna (lions, rhinos), Kids' Kingdom (deer, sea lion, domestic animals).

Application Procedure and Requirements 

Students who wish to apply should send a cover letter, resume, and a letter of recommendation to the appropriate recipient in the specific concentration area of animal husbandry in which the student is interested (see tabs below for categories and corresponding contact information). The letter of recommendation may be sent separately but should include the student name in the email subject line. The cover letter should include the following:

  • Why you are interested in an internship at the Pittsburgh Zoo
  • What you would like to gain from an internship
  • What intern opportunities interest you

To qualify for this internship, you must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher, demonstrated interest in your chosen field of Internship, the ability to work as part of a team, and strong communication skills. You must be able to do physical work.

Required Extern/Internship program duration varies within each discipline and ranges from six to 12 weeks or 480 total hours. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is a seven-day-per-week operation. Your internship may require you to work weekends, weekdays, evenings, and/or holidays. Currently, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has no available housing or stipend funding for program participants.

All requirements of the application should be sent as a packet. Incomplete applications will not be considered. You will receive acknowledgment of receipt of those materials. Only those applicants whose experience and background closely matches the Zoo's needs will be contacted.

Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible since there are a limited number of positions available.

The mammal department offers internships in three areas:
  1. Giraffes (3 days per week) 
  2. Rhinos/Cats (1-2 days per week)
  3. The Islands (2 days per week)
Days required per internship are not negotiable.

There are three internship periods:
  • Spring (March-May, 12 weeks) - applications should be sent/received January 2-8

  • Summer (June-August, 10 weeks) - applications should be sent/received March 1-7

  • Fall (September-November, 12 weeks) - applications should be sent/received June 1-7

Resumés are not kept on file and will not be accepted before or after the above dates.

Openings are extremely limited. If you have already done an internship with the zoo in the past, we apologize but you will not be able to do another. This policy allows more people to experience Zoo internship. 

Interns must be at least 18 years old and be currently enrolled in college or a recent college graduate. College students must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

To Apply:
  • Resumé and cover letter should be sent in a single email to mammalintern@pittsburghzoo.org. Letters of recommendation may be sent separately and should also be sent to mammalintern@pittsburghzoo.org.
  • When emailing, the subject line must read: "Mammal Internship - [area for which you are applying]" Thus, an application for cats and rhinos would read: "Mammal Internship - Cats and Rhinos"
  • Resumés not emailed in this format will not be considered.
  • Interns may only apply for a single internship area. Please, no applications for multiple areas.

PPG Aquarium interns will be exposed to all areas of the aquarium, including freshwater and saltwater fish, corals, penguins, sharks, stingrays, and invertebrates.

Duties will include testing water quality, exhibit maintenance, husbandry care, diet preparation, feeding, record keeping, participate in educational tours and classes, and assist with enrichment, medical treatments, and fish acclimation. We require interns to work at least two days a week and interns must be available weekdays and weekends. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Interested students and graduates should view the full internship description. Openings are extremely limited, but they are offered in three different sessions:

  • Winter/Spring (January-April) - applications must be received by November 1
  • Summer (May-August) - applications must be received by March 1
  • Fall/Winter (September-December) - applications must be received by July 1
Please send resumés/applications for PPG Aquarium internships to:

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
PPG Aquarium Internship Program
One Wild Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
aquariumintern@pittsburghzoo.org

Please note: Prospective interns who possess an Open Water Scuba Diver Certification from an accredited dive association (e.g. PADI, NAUI, SSI) also have the opportunity to apply for our Volunteer Dive Program to enhance their overall experience of the internships at PPG Aquarium. Volunteer drivers are a vital part of routine exhibit maintenance and visitor interactions, via Q&A, using our Underwater Communications Systems. Interested divers can contact the Zoo's Dive Safety Officer, Ariella Wiener, at awiener@pittsburghzoo.org for further information.

As an intern in Kids Kingdom, you will have an opportunity to work with a variety of animals, including California sea lions, North American river otters, beavers, Silvery-cheeked hornbills, barn owls, red kangaroos, miniature donkeys, pigs, goats, sheep, a llama, reptiles, and small domestic animals. 

Along with the daily care of the animals, interns will be exposed to training, enrichment, and public speaking for sea lion demonstrations. We require interns to work a minimum of two days a week for 12 weeks. Winter work hours (Labor Day to Memorial Day) are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Summer interns (Memorial Day to Labor Day) work one day 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and one day 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., so that you can learn how to both open and close yards.

There are three internship periods:
  • Winter/Spring (January-April) - applications must be received by November 1
  • Summer (May-August) - applications must be received by March 1
  • Fall/Winter (September-December) - applications must be received by July 31
Please send applications to:
Kesha Phares
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Internship Program
One Wild Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
 

Thank you for your interest in the Worlds of Discovery internship program. As an intern in Worlds of Discovery, you will have an opportunity to work with a variety of animals, including slender-tailed meerkats, naked mole rats, red pandas, komodo dragons, crocodiles, alligators, tortoises, and snakes.

Along with the daily animal husbandry, interns will assist the keeper in all tasks. The ability to multi-task and time management is required. Interns will be taught proper animal restraint techniques for relocation/weights, exhibit design and fabrication, enrichment, and public speaking for red panda and crocodile encounters. We require interns to work a minimum of two days a week for 13 weeks. The daily work schedule will fall between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., depending on the season. The days available are Sunday - Thursday. Openings are extremely limited. Please submit a resume and cover letter that includes the following:

  • Why you are interested in an internship at the Pittsburgh Zoo's Worlds of Discovery
  • What you would like to gain from your internship
  • A list of previous internships/facilities
 
 Seasons  Internship Period  Resume Deadline  Interviews
Summer 2017  May - August  May 6   
Fall 2017  September - November  August 17  August 20 - 31 
Summer 2018 May - August  March 1  March 18 - 21 
 
Please send applications to:

Raymond Bamrick
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Internship Program - Worlds of Discovery
One Wild Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Or email rbamrick@pittsburghzoo.org

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Water’s Edge interns will have the opportunity to take part in all aspects of daily husbandry of the four species in our AMMPA accredited marine mammal facility: polar bears, northern sea otters, northern elephant seals, and California sea lions.

We offer internships in three sessions:
Winter/Spring – January through April
Summer – May through August
Fall/Winter – September through December

This internship is progressive and is 13 weeks in length*. Our internship is divided into four levels, each concentrating on a different aspect of marine mammal care, while continuing to build on the intern’s responsibilities:

  • Level 1: Basic Husbandry, Marine Mammal Protocols, and Natural Histories of our Species
  • Level 2: Public Speaking and Positive Guest Interactions
  • Level 3: Enrichment and Internship Project
  • Level 4: Marine Mammal Training

*Due to the nature of a progressive internship, a commitment of 13 weeks is required.

Intern responsibilities will encompass the skills needed to provide exceptional care for marine mammals. These skills will include morning diet preparation, kitchen/facility cleaning exceeding USDA standards, daily guest interactions, assisting with life support systems, managing daily enrichment schedules, creating novel enrichment, and assisting with animal training projects alongside of keepers. There is no guarantee of any direct animal interaction and any interaction will be at the discretion of animal care staff.

Water’s Edge interns are also required to complete 6 week internship project that will be presented to staff and peers at the end of their 13 weeks. These projects are chosen from a list provided by keepers at the beginning of the internship and can be species behavioral studies, enrichment development, guest interactions, or training studies. Some previous projects include:

  • Northern elephant seal dive duration
  • Social interactions between two male Northern sea otters
  • Enrichment interactions of our male polar bear
  • Interspecies social interactions between California sea lions and Northern elephant seal
  • Habitat usage for Northern elephant seal

Prospective interns who possess an Open Water Scuba Diver Certification from an accredited dive association (e.g. PADI, NAUI, SSI) also have the opportunity to apply for our Volunteer Dive Program. Volunteer drivers are a vital part of routine exhibit maintenance. Interested divers can contact the Zoo's Dive Safety Officer, Ariella Wiener, at awiener@pittsburghzoo.org for further information. Please also state in your resume/cover letter that you are interested in participating in our Volunteer Dive Program.


How to Apply

Applicants should submit an application packet with their resume, cover letter, and letter of recommendation by the deadlines listed below for each session.
Winter/Spring – deadline November 1st
Summer – deadline March 1st
Fall/Winter – deadline August 1st

Submit application packets via mail or email to:
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Water's Edge Internship Program
One Wild Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
watersedgeintern@pittsburghzoo.org

Non-Animal Husbandry Internships

The Conservation Education Department of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium provides education opportunities for approximately 300,000 people annually through programs at the zoo and in the community.

We currently offer internships in two separate areas of the department. Please read the internship descriptions below to help you decide for which internship you would like to apply.  You can apply for both, however, if accepted for both, each is a separate two-day-per-week requirement. 

Application Period:

  • Fall Internship (September-December) - July 1 until filled
  • Spring Internship (January-May) - October 1 until filled
  • Summer Internship (May-August) - January 1-February 28

To apply, please submit a resumé, cover letter, and letter of recommendation.

The cover letter should include:
  • Why you are interested in an internship at the Pittsburgh Zoo
  • What you would like to gain from an internship
  • What intern opportunities interest you
Minimum Requirements:
  • Interns must be available at least 2 8-hour days per week for 10 weeks
  • Negative TB test
  • Clear Background Check

Available Internships: 

Animal Ambassadors Internship
Interns will have the opportunity to work hands-on with the Conservation Education department’s animal care team as we maintain the zoo’s collection of over 50 animals used as ambassadors for public education.  Intern responsibilities include observation, feeding, cleaning, record keeping, and animal handling/presentations.  In addition, Interns will have lessons on public speaking/presentation, lesson development, animal training and enrichment, zoo careers, and guest service. Interns will also have limited opportunities to observe education programs.

To apply, contact: 
Beth Inches 
binches@pittsburghzoo.org
412-365-2526
 

KidScience/Zoo U. internship
Interns will have the opportunity to work with the KidScience & Zoo U. programs—year-round science enrichment programs for middle school and high school students.  An ideal candidate for these programs will have a strong background in biology, zoology, and/or animal behavior research, a passion for animals and conservation, and the ability to teach and work closely with highly motivated teens and pre-teens. The KidScience and Zoo U. programs meet on Saturdays, so interns should be able to work one Saturday and one weekday (Tuesday-Friday) each week. Intern responsibilities include assisting the program coordinator in preparing lessons and activities for the classes, classroom and activity management, designing and teaching at least one lesson plan, and generally displaying teaching and leadership skills. Interns will also have limited opportunities to gain hands-on experience with animal handling/presentation.

To apply, contact: 
Mandy Revak 
mrevak@pittsburghzoo.org
412-365-2567

Program participants will work with a large collection of woody and herbaceous ornamental plants. Practical experience in many phases of public horticulture including care and maintenance of tropical and temperate plants, landscape installation (simulated habitats), and annual display beds. There also exists the opportunity to work with the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium staff to develop various botanical interpretation programs for the Zoo visitor.

Application Procedure and Requirements: 

Students who wish to apply should send a cover letter, resumé, and a letter of recommendation. The cover letter should include the following:
  • Why you are interested in an internship at the Pittsburgh Zoo
  • What you would like to gain from an internship
  • What intern opportunities interest you

To qualify for this internship, you must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher, demonstrated interest in your chosen field of Internship, the ability to work as part of a team, and strong communication skills. You must be able to do physical work. 

Required extern/internship program duration varies within each discipline and ranges from six to 12 weeks or 480 total hours. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is a seven-day-per-week operation. Your internship may require you to work weekends, weekdays, evenings, and/or holidays. Currently, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has no available housing or stipend funding for program participants. 

All requirements of the application should be sent as a packet. Incomplete applications will not be considered. You will receive acknowledgement of receipt of those materials. Only those applicants whose experience and background closely matches the Zoo's needs will be contacted. 

Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible since there are a limited number of positions available. 

Criminal background checks will be processed on all applicants considered for an internship/externship prior to start date.

Please send applications to:

Frank Pizzi
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Internship Program
One Wild Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

or email fpizzi@pittsburghzoo.org

Veterinary Student Externship

The Animal Health Department is currently accepting externship applications for fourth-year veterinary students (third-year students will be considered if in their clinical year). The Animal Health Department serves the medical and surgical needs of the mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fish that make their home at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

Externships are six to eight weeks long with a work schedule of Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weekend hours are possible).  Externs will play an integral role in the day-to-day operations of the animal health team.

Interested students should send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, veterinary school transcripts, letters from two professional references, and two to three potential time slots to Dr. Ginger Sturgeon via Colleen Yeany, Administrative Assistant, at vethsp@pittsburghzoo.org. Additional information about the program can be located at www.aazv.org.


Veterinary Technician Internship 

The Animal Health Department is currently accepting internship applications from veterinary technician students.  The Animal Health Department serves the medical and surgical needs of the mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and fish that make their home at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

Internships are six to eight weeks long with a work schedule of Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Applicants will play an integral role in the day-to-day operations of the animal health team.

Interested students should send a cover letter, resume, veterinary technician school transcripts, and two to three potential time slots to Libby Galvanek, CAHT, via Colleen Yeany, Administrative Assistant, at vethsp@pittsburghzoo.org.


Animal Health Undergraduate Internship

The Animal Health Department is currently accepting internship applications from undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in wildlife or zoo medicine. The Animal Health Department serves the medical and surgical needs of the mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and fish that make their home at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and the International Conservation Center.

The animal health undergraduate internship is a minimum of 10 weeks long within the specified periods of time listed below. Each internship consists of 40-hour work weeks Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Students should have a strong interest in zoo and wildlife veterinary medicine. Interns may be required to work in inclement weather, lift heavy loads, and must be dependable. The duties of the intern will vary widely and may include assisting with setting up and cleaning up of veterinary procedures, restocking hospital supplies, cleaning and sterilization of surgical instruments, animal observations, cleaning and disinfecting animal enclosures, assisting with lab sample processing including blood, urine and feces, and other duties as assigned.

Interested students should send a cover letter, resumé, college transcripts, and two letters of recommendation along with a potential start date with the length of time available to Erin Calig, CVT, via Colleen Yeany, Administrative Assistant, at vethsp@pittsburghzoo.org. The application deadlines for each internship period are listed below.

Spring: December through May

Spring application deadline is November 15.

Summer: May through August

Summer application deadline is March 1.

Fall: August through December

Fall application deadline is July 1.