College & High School Internship Program

The Mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature.  We live our mission through our core values.

Brookfield Zoo

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.

Internships are offered three times a year: Winter (January - April), Summer (May - August) and Fall (September - December) and applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Additional details, including a list of application deadlines, can be found here

These opportunities offer you:

- Mentoring and Coaching
- Professional Training
- Hands-on, relevant, real experience
- Unique experiences in a diverse setting


Learn More about our various Internship Opportunities

Animal Care Specialist

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. 


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. 

Vet Tech
Internships & Externships

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 winter/spring term to coincide with their spring semester.

Learn More About
Vet Tech Internships & Externships

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. The program’s primary goal is to contribute to a better understanding of the structure and dynamics of populations of small cetaceans, as well as the natural and anthropogenic factors that impact them. This interdisciplinary team studies bottlenose dolphins within Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Naples/Marco Island, and the Gulf of Mexico coastal waters. To apply, click the Learn More button below to read about qualifications, requirements, and application deadlines.

King Conservation
Science Scholars

Occasionally, a limited number of high school internships are available exclusively to our King Conservation Science Scholars participants and alumni. If you're currently in high school and interested in becoming a King Scholar, check out our King Scholars program to learn more about this exciting college and career readiness program and the many amazing opportunities you could be a part of, including internships!

Current Internship Opportunities

Animal Care


Currently accepting applications for:  Summer 2023
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of Placements: Varies by area

Placements are available in the following areas. Please read each area description carefully. On your application, you can select up to three (3) areas for placement consideration.

Areas currently accepting applications:

- Animal Ambassadors/Hamill Family Play Zoo/Wild Encounters 
- Avian Husbandry & Care
- Habitat Africa! The Savannah
- Habitat Africa! The Forest
- 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. 

*If you are applying for Marine Mammals, your application will not be considered for any other internship experience. 


Animal Behavior &
Welfare Research


Currently accepting applications for: January - July 2023
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of Placements: 2-3

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.



Behavioral Diversity 
Research Project


Currently accepting applications for: Summer 2023
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of Placements: 5

This 12-week, full-time placement provides hands-on experience working with our Animal Behavior and Welfare team on a specific project that will examine the relationship between behavioral diversity and other indicators of animal welfare such as markers of adrenal activity and stereotypic behavior. The project team will conduct research with a subset of Brookfield Zoo mammals representing many taxonomic groups and collect behavioral data and samples over a three-month period from 30 individual animals representing 10 mammal species. If behavioral diversity could be validated as an indicator of positive welfare, animal care staff will have a new tool to use for welfare monitoring. With the link between animal welfare and reproductive success, ensuring high levels of welfare will help ensure sustainability of the collection and allow the zoo to better serve its animals and the public.
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.




Currently accepting applications for: Summer 2023
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of Placements: 1-2

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 2023
Applications due: February 11 for Summer 2023
Location: Mote Marine Lab, Sarasota, FL
Pay Rate: $3,000 stipend

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 relocating for the term of the internship. Interns will receive no remuneration for any duties or assignments they may perform during the internship.


Vet Tech Externships:
Fox College & JJC


Currently accepting applications for:  Winter/ Spring 2023
Applications due: December 1* 
Location: Brookfield Zoo
Pay Rate: Unpaid
Number of placements: 2-3

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.

*Application deadline has been extended for this opportunity only. 

Additional Details