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. Further down, you will find a schedule of application deadlines for each term. 

These opportunities offer you:

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


Learn More about our Different Internship Opportunities

Animal Care Specialist Internships

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. 

Specialty Internships

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

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.

Learn More About
Vet Tech Internships & Externships

NEW: Remote Internship Opportunities

No need to live locally in order to intern in one of these remote positions. These opportunities utilize various forms of technology to get the job done. These positions are very flexible and are a great way to grow your professional experience without needing to relocate or commute.

King Conservation Science Scholars

During the summer term, 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!

Requirements & Application Details

Minimum Requirements

Internship program applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:

Be able to commit to a full time,12 week term (generally 5 days/week, 40 hours per week) for all animal care specialist internships. Other areas often take part time interns--make sure to read each position description carefully for the details of the schedule for that position.
Have a sincere interest in the particular field of application.
Some positions require more experience or specific skills. Please read each position description carefully to determine whether or not you are qualified before submitting your application.

Completed applications must be received by midnight (CST) on the deadlines listed below. Please note, internship opportunities may not be offered in all areas every term. Term start and end dates may be somewhat flexible based on student’s academic calendar. If an interview is desired to further consider the applicant for an internship opportunity, the applicant will be notified by e-mail. Selected interns must clear a full background check in order to begin. Offers are subject to this clearance. 

For the welfare of employees and animals, proof of a current tetanus vaccination is required for all onsite internships prior to the start of the internship assignment. Remote internships do not require proof of vaccinations. In some animal areas, additional inoculations/tests may be required (measles, vaccine, TB test, etc.). All tests/vaccinations are at the applicant’s expense.

Application Details

Students who want to be considered for an internship must submit all of the following:

1. Online Application

Before filling out the online application, make sure you have checked out our current opportunities, listed at the bottom of this page. Not all internships are available year-round. When you're ready to begin, submit your online application here.

Submit Online Application

2. Professional Cover Letter

Your cover letter should describe your particular interest in the internship(s) you are applying for and tell us anything about your experience that may not be reflected on your resume. You need only submit one cover letter, even if you are applying for multiple internships.

3. Resume

Your current resume should detail your education and qualifications including your work history and any other relevant experience such as military or volunteer service.

Submit Resume

4. Two Professional Letters of Recommendation

Letters must be professional in nature (professor, colleague, supervisor, coworker, etc.) and should include a candid assessment of your aptitude, qualifications, background, and suitability for the program. References should include the length and capacity in which the individual has known you as well as their contact information should more information be needed. 

5. Unofficial College Transcript(s)

An unofficial transcript is required to apply for an internship at Brookfield Zoo. However, please note in the event that you are offered a position, an official transcript will be required at that time. Official transcripts can be submitted digitally by your school to or by mail to:

Brookfield Zoo
Education Dept. - Internships
3300 Golf Rd.
Brookfield, IL. 60513

There is great interest in the CELO program and because of this, incomplete or late applications will not be considered--No exceptions.

If you have any questions about applying for an internship at Brookfield Zoo, please reach out to us at

If you feel you would need any sort of accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to fulfill an internship successfully, please complete an ADA Accommodations form and return it to

Application Deadlines



Application Deadline

Interview Window*

Approximate Start Date*

Fall Term 2020
(Remote internships only)

September 20
Extended to September 30

September 21- October 10

Mid-to-late October,
but very flexible

Winter Term 2021
(Jan - April)

November 30

December 1-15

Mid-January 2021

Summer Term 2021

February 21, 2021

March 13 - April 4, 2021

Late May 2021


Current Internship Opportunities

In light of current events, our onsite internship program has been suspended indefinitely in order to comply with health regulations and for the safety of participants, staff, and animals alike. Please check back frequently for updates and new opportunities, including new remote opportunities! 


Information Technology Administrative Internship

Hiring for: Winter 2021, Summer 2021
Location: Remote/Work from home
Pay Rate: Unpaid

This position contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by promptly
and effectively completing administrative needs related to technical support requests
by CZS users and technical support groups within the Information Technology
Department in accordance with Society policies and Information Technology (“IT”)
procedures and guidelines.


Marine Mammal Curatorial Intern

Hiring for: Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Summer 2021
Location: Remote/Work from home
Pay Rate: Unpaid

This position contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by assisting the Marine Mammal curator with various daily duties as necessary research, literature reviews, and data entry projects, via remote access.

Digital Content Internship

Hiring for: Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Summer 2021
Location: Remote/Work from home
Pay Rate: Unpaid

This position contributes to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by amplifying our message about animal conservation, providing extraordinary guest experience, and informing guests and members about all of the opportunities, events, and experiences available here.

Conservation Funding Initiatives Internship

Hiring for: Winter 2021, Summer 2021
Location: Remote/Work from home
Pay Rate: Unpaid

This position will work closely with the Senior Vice President of Conservation Programs, Research, and Funding as well as the Director of Conservation Funding Initiatives. You will contribute to the success of the Chicago Zoological Society by assisting in research, communication, and fund raising strategies that support the Society’s mission, strategic plans, and overall goals.

Education Research and Evaluation Intern

Hiring for: Winter 2021, Summer 2021
Location: Remote/Work from home
Pay Rate: Unpaid

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.


Questions?  Send us an e-mail us at