July 8, 2012

Animal Care Internships

Forest Animal Rescue is currently accepting applications for internships at our facility – apply now!

Are you a college student and would like to gain professional experience in captive wild animal care? Get a great first-hand experience by working at an accredited, non-profit sanctuary.

Work with: tigers, bears, wolves, cougars, servals, spider monkeys, capuchins, lemurs, fruit bats, horses, tortoises, and domestic cats!

In-depth training:

Here is what you’ll learn and accomplish at Forest Animal Rescue:

Volunteer food prep

  • Understand the natural history of the species
  • Get to know the animals and how they came to the sanctuary
  • Understand how a TRUE sanctuary operates
  • Learn how to safely and properly work around wild and dangerous animals
  • Learn how to prepare all animals’ diets and the nutrition behind it
  • Clean animal enclosures, pools, and change water containers
  • Learn how to safely feed carnivores, primates, bats, and equines
  • Learn how to groom and walk equines
  • Understand carnivore and primate behavior
  • Learn how to thoroughly observe, monitor and track animals’ health
  • Observe any vet care given. All interns may be asked to help assist with procedures or moving anesthetized animals to the degree they are trained to so.
  • Assist with animal enrichment and learn how to ensure the animal has the best quality of life
  • Interns staying 3+ months will be required to do a project: an in-depth observation or enrichment. This will enhance skills at animal monitoring.

Other duties include but are not limited to:

  • Landscaping and grounds maintenance
  • General maintenance and repairs
  • Animal dishes
  • Cleaning the food prep building and surrounding areas
  • Habitat construction
  • Assist in general administrative duties related to animal care, sanctuary procedures, events and other activities as appropriate.

What to expect:

  • Internships are non-salaried but openings in fall, winter and spring will include a $300 per month stipend.
  • Lodging and meals are provided.
  • There are scholarships available to our interns who qualify– click here to learn more
  • Summer positions are highly competitive so for a higher chance of selection, try to apply for other times of the year as well.
  • Internships are for a period of 4 weeks to one year. Preference is given to applicants with a longer period of availability.
  • Interns usually work full-time Mondays through Saturdays, with light duties on Sundays and half-day on Thursdays, giving interns the afternoons off.
  • Materials, curriculum, and training materials are provided. You will be trained thoroughly before doing any chores on your own. There are 3 training levels in which you must demonstrate your understand of the cleaning, safety, and protocols before moving onto the next level. Training usually takes 2-4 weeks depending on your abilities.
  • A stipend will not be provided until after the first month when you will be fully trained. You will always be closely supervised but will gain trust and more independence as you learn.
  • Materials and curriculum will be provided.
  • Non-compliance with the sanctuary rules and procedures will result in immediate termination from the program.

Working with wild animals is a very gratifying an unique experience, please read the following before applying: The safety of the animals and the humans that care for them comes first at our facility  – WE ARE A HANDS OFF SANCTUARY. If a wild animal bites or scratches you, it immediately places the welfare of the animal and the entire sanctuary at risk. We believe in the respect of wild animals and will not endanger our workers or our animals so there is a strict no touching rule for the wild animals.

If you would like physical hands-on experience, you should try working with domestic species. However, we do have a number of domestic species (tortoises, horses and domestic cats) that will require hands-on care at the sanctuary.


  • At a minimum, applicants must be in their second year of college in an animal related science (zoology, conservation, animal behavior, etc)
  • Two letters of reference including addresses and contact numbers from two individuals not related to you who have known you for over a year submitted at the time of application, preferably from volunteer work or employment.
  • Must be able to provide proof of a current negative TB test (within the past 12 months) or a TB vaccine.
  • In order to participate in activities involving bats, the intern must provide proof of rabies vaccination.
  • Hepatitis B and tetanus vaccinations are strongly recommended.
  • Must be reasonably physically fit, able to lift and carry up to 50 pounds and able to work outdoors in the Florida climate.

Internship Accommodations:

Intern House

  • Housing and groceries will be provided for you; you will have to cook and clean for yourself during your stay.
  • Vegetarian or vegan staples are available upon request. Shopping lists must be given at the start of each week. Transportation to the grocery store for the purchase of personal items is available as we pick up animal supplies.
  • No pets allowed
  • Males and female interns stay in separate housing. The houses are basic and furnished. There may be multiple interns at a time which require sharing rooms and bathrooms. During the off-season, you might have a house to yourself.
  • Interns must entertain themselves and are responsible for their own transportation. Silver Springs has multiple fresh water springs and fun hiking trails. Ocala is not too far away to enjoy a nice restaurant, shopping, or movies.
  • You will be located in the Ocala National Forest on a soft sand road.
  • We are very rural – there is no public transportation. If you do not bring your own car, you will need to plan on spending quiet evenings at your lodging unless there is a group outing planned.
  • A wireless internet connection is available if you bring your own computer. Basic food is provided for meals and laundry facilities are provided.
  • A telephone for domestic calls is provided. International calls require a calling card.
  • Applicants must be comfortable with spending quiet evenings in their own company depending on how many volunteers and interns are on the premises at one time.

What we do NOT provide:

  • Personal care items
  • A computer
  • Funds for entertainment
  • Transportation for sightseeing

PLEASE NOTE: Our program focuses on the importance of professional management of captive wild animals and does not promote private ownership of wild animals. This program does not include physical contact with potentially dangerous animals residing at our facility through the wire or in any other way. These animals are not pets. If you are looking for an internship that offers direct contact with animals you should consider working with domestic animals. Due to insurance reasons and the welfare of the animals, there are no exceptions to this policy.

This is an experience you will never forget, so apply now! Applications are accepted year-round.

Click here to Download Internship Application

email the completed application and attachments to us, or you may mail or fax them to:

Forest Animal Rescue
Attn: Intern Department
640 NE 170th Ct.
Silver Springs, FL 34488

Fax: 352-625-7376 Please try to have your completed application and attachments submitted 30-45 days before your desired start date.

69 thoughts on “Animal Care Internships

  • I was wondering if you accepted interns that have graduated from college. Please let me know if I’m eligible. Thank you.

  • Brittany, Yes, we accept applications from interns that have graduated from college. Instead of school references, just include a note that you have already graduated and include references from employers.

  • The internship includes lodging and meals but is unpaid for the first 4 week probationary period. After the probationary period, there is a stipend of $300/month.

  • Will the negative TB test be required to apply for the internship? Or are we able to take it once we know we are hired? Thanks!

  • If you don’t have a current TB test, you can just make a note on your application that it will be provided if you are accepted. You can then send it to us shortly after you are accepted.

  • Do you mind if I include a resume with the application? It details all my relative work experience which I cannot fit on the application

  • Hello! I was just wondering what months the Fall internship entails? Does it run from September to December? Thank you!

  • The internships are ongoing throughout the year and dates are flexible. Extra consideration is given to applicants that can stay longer periods of time, but it is not a requirement.

  • Feel free to include any additional information that provides information in addition to what can fit on the application.

  • Hello, I am filling out the application for internship and asks you to put down employment history, could I skip that if I have already put in the section with experience with wildlife or do I have to do that seperate?

  • Yes, this is a strictly enforced rule. The lodging is shared and there are no outside animals allowed at the sanctuary.

  • I am looking for an internship for early next year. Are any of the internships for anywhere between January and May??

  • We have internships available year-round. Just apply and fill in the date range you are available.

  • I sent in my application and email and via fax over a week ago and haven’t heard back. My name is Whitney Zuercher.

  • It takes time to review applications, we go through all completed applications at one time when we are making our final selections. We have not completed this round of reviews just yet.

  • I am a recent masters degree graduate (biology) and would love to be an intern there. I do have one question on the reference letter policy though. I would like to use some of my professors; as I worked under them, but they do not like to give the students the letters at all. Is it possible for me to apply without the reference letters and for them to send them to you directly?

  • Yes – reference letters can be sent to us directly. That is a common practice. Just know that your application cannot be considered until they are in your file, so you will want to follow us to be sure they have been received.

  • I sent an application in about a week ago I was wondering if there is an estimated time when I should here back?

  • We are currently reviewing applications for our open position. We accept applications year-round and review them based upon various periods of availability of applicants compared to openings we have. It varies widely.

  • What are the application deadlines for each season? Thank you! I’m so glad I found this opportunity!

  • The dates are extremely flexible and we hire interns throughout the year. You should submit is as soon as possible and indicate the longest period you are available. When we have an opening, we review the applications with availability during the time of our opening.

  • Do you receive students from other countries?
    I am from Colombia, and i have to make my internship to graduate from biology.
    I would like to work with you but i dont know if you accept students like me.

  • I was looking into applying for this for the summer semester and was wondering if this would count towards my internships credit that is required to graduate. Also if a A.A.S degree in zoo keeping technology would be sufficient to acquire an internship position.

  • Our internships normally count toward internship credits but you would need to check the specific requirements of your school and send us a copy to verify before we could guarantee anything. Yes, we would be happy to consider your application.

  • If we are flying in from out of state is there an easy way for us to get to and from the airport? Also if we are applying for an extended period that includes the holidays would we be able to have time to leave for Christmas?

  • hi! I was wondering if an international student (non-US citizen) with work authorization, such as OPT is able to apply for this internship?

  • There is no public transportation in our area, but you can hire a shuttle for about $200 (or take shuttle to the Greyhound bus station in Ocala and then a bus to the airport)

  • I’m not familiar with the OPT work authorization, but if an animal husbandry position would allow you to accept a ‘paid’ position in the U.S. then it will qualify. However, we have tried other forms of work permits and since this is not a highly technical/skilled field that cannot be filled by a US citizen, they were declined. You would need to research that before you could qualify.

  • Hello! I apply for the internship like 3 weeks ago. I want to know when the applicants will receive a response? Thank you

  • We are currently reviewing applications for our open position. We accept applications year-round and review them based upon various periods of availability of applicants compared to openings we have. It varies widely. On average, you will hear from us 30-60 days before the position is scheduled to start.

  • I was wondering if I would be considered if I am not currently in school?
    I am almost complete with an associates, just in general studies. However, I just wanted to see if I would be able to get into the field before completing a degree, to double check it is something that I would be interested in pursuing as a career.

  • You must have completed at least one year of biology or an animal related study. The goal is to have interns with some education in place on the basics so we aren’t starting from 101

  • Regarding the reference requirements:
    Do the two letters of reference from previous employers or supervisors need to be from an animal care related work position?
    Do the two references of staff members at our school need to come with letters of reference as well?

  • The reference letters should be from a place of employment if at all possible. It is not required that the employment be animal related. The school references are just contact information so that we can check the reference.

  • Hi there!

    This internship seems like an amazing opportunity to get some real hands-on experience! Quick question: is housing available in the summer, or is it strictly provided to interns working in the fall, winter and spring?

  • I am a senior majoring in psychology (BS) planning on going into wildlife rehabilitation. I have years of experience with domestic animals and have taken the few animal courses that were available to me, including animal industries (agriculture-related) and equine science. Am I qualified to apply?

  • Housing and groceries for meals are benefits for all of our interns, regardless of the time of year.

  • Yes there are. We are reviewing them this week, so if you get your application in quickly you can make into this cycle.

  • When will the summer applications close? Also, for the winter application would I be able to stay for a month and work with the animals?

  • We have filled our summer positions through the beginning of August. A month is our minimum time to be qualified to apply, however, we prefer to select applicants that will be with for as long as possible.

  • When does your Fall positions start? Also, I am a recent college graduate with a major in Cognitive Neuroscience, which basically is a double major in Biology and Psychology. I am hoping to get experience working with wildlife and eventually become a zoologist. Would I be qualified to apply for this internship?

  • Hi, I have a couple questions: 1) I was wondering if any fall positions were still open? 2) do you believe there to be room in an interns schedule to have a part-time job while being committed to the hours needed for the internship? and 3) if an intern is 100% committed to possibly doing a year long internship with you, do you allow for possible “holiday” breaks for those who come from out of state?

  • 1) Yes, we still have fall positions open. 2) It is extremely doubtful that there is time for a part-time job during the internship because there is work to do 7 days a week and the average workweek is at least 40 hours. 3) If someone commits to a year-long internship we will allow scheduling of breaks to see family, etc.

  • We observe and medicate animals daily as needed. A veterinarian does procedures as needed (new arrivals, illness/injury), and the animals receive annual checkups.

  • We have internship positions open as soon as immediately and on a rolling basis throughout the year. Although we do not pay stipends to our new interns during the summer, anyone qualified to receive a stipend (minimum of 4 weeks of training under their belt) may begin receiving the $300 monthly stipend on the first weekly pay date in September.

  • Hi, I’m looking for a full-time paid keeper position. I’ve interned at a few sanctuaries, so I do have experience working with big cats. Is that case-by-case requiring that someone do an internship first, or do you post job openings when you’re hiring?

  • Thank you for your inquiry. We only hire from within our pool of successful interns. You are welcome to apply for an internship.

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