Marine Mammals

Seven Seas and Pinniped Point are home to Brookfield zoo’s marine mammals, including common bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, and grey seals. Interns at Seven Seas will gain experience caring for these animals in a fast-paced and challenging environment to prepare them for their future in the field of marine mammal care and training. The goal of the intern program is for skills accrued here at Brookfield Zoo to be applicable to any other marine mammal facility, and to teach the interns how we provide exceptional animal care.

The Seven Seas Internship Program is intended as a career learning experience for students/individuals interested in the field of marine mammal care. Interns will gain exposure to animal care, husbandry, and training, while playing an integral support role to the Seven Seas staff. Selected applicants will work one on one with a mentor to gain a basic understanding of operant conditioning and training techniques. Mentors will provide interns with both conceptual knowledge of training techniques, through weekly meetings and comprehension reviews, and hands on practical experience in the day to day of a marine mammal specialist. The interns will work both independently and under staff supervision to complete daily tasks. Our goal is to give interns a well-rounded experience and basic skills necessary to begin a career in animal care. Hands on experience working directly with marine mammals is dependent upon interns’ individual progressions and is completed under close staff supervision.

Essential Tasks

Interns will be integrated into the daily operations of Seven Seas and Pinniped Point. About 40% of the day will consist of departmental tasks, such as cleaning, maintenance, animal observations, and helping with enrichment. About 15% of the day will be devoted to educational meetings with a mentor, training discussions, reading about animal care, and researching your individual project. Up to 25% of the day may be spent engaging guests in the Seven Seas Dolphin Stadium and/or running the sound booth during daily dolphin presentations. And the remaining 15% will commonly be spent observing training sessions and assisting with animal husbandry. Typical tasks include, but are not limited to:

✔ Diet preparation for dolphins and pinnipeds
✔ Maintaining and exceeding USDA, AZA, AMMPA, and IMATA standards
✔ Completing cleaning and maintenance tasks of public and behind the scenes areas
✔ Interacting with zoo guests and embodying the zoo’s mission of inspiring conservation leadership
✔ Maintaining a safe environment for guests and animals in the stadium during daily dolphin presentations
✔ Interacting with and educating guests to Brookfield Zoo
✔ Evaluating environmental enrichment devices
✔ Completing an individual research project and presenting it to the staff
✔ Creating a 5-10 minute educational chat to present to guests
✔ Entering husbandry data
✔ Assisting full time staff with training sessions and daily husbandry
✔ Completing all required readings and quizzes
✔ Working hands on with animals is dependent on each intern’s individual skill level, and is under close staff supervision

Daily Activities and Example Schedule

While there is no 100% “typical” day in the life of an animal caregiver, below is an example of what a daily schedule might look like for an intern at Seven Seas and Pinniped Point. Note that the intern will participate in daily operational tasks, such as food preparation, cleaning, and maintenance, but will also spend time reading independently, working with their mentor, and observing animal care and training. They may also be asked to do tasks outside the aforementioned duties, on an as-needed basis per departmental needs.

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Requirements

Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must be able to meet the following requirements:

✔ Completion of three (3) years of college or equivalent (junior and seniors)
✔ Overall grade point average of 3.0 (out of 4.0)
✔ Must be willing to accept the internship as an unpaid position and commit to a minimum of at least 12-17 weeks, up to 40 hours a week.
✔ 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.
✔ At this time, we are not able to accept international candidates.

Scheduling Requirements: The field of marine mammal care is very competitive, with many great applicants vying for each position. Once you enter this field as a full time animal care specialist, you are expected to put animal needs first, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. To set our interns up for success, and to demonstrate the standards of this industry, we have high expectations, and want to make all scheduling requirements clear. This gives interns an idea of what a career in animal care really entails; putting the animals’ needs above your own. Therefore, the scheduling requirements during the term of the internship are as follows:

✔ Applicants should be available to work during the entire term of the internship, including any weekdays, weekends, holidays, and evenings that may fall within the internship term.
✔ Though we strive to avoid last minute shift and schedule changes, applicants should recognize that schedules are subject to change based on departmental and animal needs, including daily shifts and set days off. We will give interns as much notice as possible, should a need to alter their schedule arise.
✔ Applicants should notify the Seven Seas staff of any anticipated scheduling needs at the time of the interview, including starting a new year of schooling, maintaining a second job, etc.
✔ Weekly days off are assigned based on animal care needs, and to match the interns’ schedules with their mentors’ days off. Once assigned, they cannot be changed. This is why notifying Seven Seas of any scheduling conflicts as early as possible is so important.

Physical Expectations: The daily activities of a marine mammal caregiver are often very strenuous physically. To give applicants a clear idea of the physical nature of the position, we have listed the following physical requirements:

✔ Must possess the ability to stand, kneel, or squat for long periods of time. A majority of the day will be spent standing or walking, and very little time will be spent sitting
✔ Interns may be expected lift up to 50 lbs on a daily basis
✔ Applicants must be able to swim and be comfortable around deep water
✔ Candidates should be comfortable working in varying weather conditions, including working outside in inclement weather, working in very warm climates, and working in very cold temperatures

Application Submissions

Completed application packets must arrive no later than the final deadline. Applications that are incomplete or arrive after the final deadline will not be considered.

✔ Current Resume
✔ Professional Cover Letter
✔ College transcript(s) - Official or unofficial copies are accepted.
✔ Two (2) letters of recommendation