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Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

Elephant Internship

Under the direction of the Elephant Care Staff, along with the Elephant Supervisor and the Large Mammal Curator, elephant interns assist keeper staff in most aspects of the daily husbandry requirements for the elephants. This internship is designed to provide an opportunity to form a knowledge base as it pertains to managing captive elephants in an AZA accredited facility in the following areas: general knowledge, daily husbandry, nutrition, data collection and record keeping, environmental enrichment, operant conditioning, conservation Issues, and guest interactions.


This internship is an in-depth program requiring a minimum of 30 hours per week for a commitment for 12 weeks. Interns must be flexible with their schedule, and have the ability to work weekdays, weekends, and holidays. It is an unpaid position but housing may be provided. We will do our best to accommodate school requirements for those who can earn class credit and make every effort to accommodate interns that have other full or part-time job requirements.



  • Assist in diet preparation and kitchen clean-up
  • Clean exhibit spaces and holding areas, including 3.5 acres of outdoor habitats and a 25,000 sq ft barn
  • Identification and collection of browse and proper storage of browse as necessary
  • Preparation and distribution of daily enrichment
  • Behavioral observations
  • All other duties as assigned



  • Interns will be expected to spend the entire 12 weeks with the elephant department and work minimum of 30 hours per week with at least 1 weekend day included.
  • Interns must read through department protocols and sign upon completion, acknowledging that the information contained within (safety guidelines, daily operations, elephant profiles, etc.) is understood.
  • Interns will not have any direct contact with the elephants.
  • Interns will always be accompanied by an elephant keeper when in an unoccupied elephant space.
  • Interns are not to be left alone in a yard or holding area for any reason.
  • Interns are expected to immediately voice any safety concern they have no matter how minor it may seem.
  • Interns will have the opportunity to observe elephant training and techniques but will not be allowed to directly train any elephant. While observing training sessions it is critical not to distract the trainer(s), hold any questions until the session is complete (carry a pen and small notebook to write down questions).
  • Interns will be encouraged to complete a project related to behavior, enrichment, education, or conservation of elephants over the course of the internship.
  • There is a 2 week probation period during which the intern may be transferred to a different area of the zoo if they fail to meet depart expectations. The internship may be subject to immediate termination if an intern violates any of the guidelines and/or is failing to meet the expectations set forth.


EXPERIENCE: Experience is not necessary, however, a cover letter containing clearly defined career goals including how an internship in the Elephant Department at OHDZA would help achieve those goals is required.


EDUCATION: Interns should be currently enrolled in, or have recently graduated from, a college or university and have a minimum of one year of course work in a major field of study to be applied during the internship (e.g. biology, zoology, animal behavior, etc.). Applicants must be independently motivated to continue expanding their knowledge base as it applies to elephant care and conservation.


PHYSICAL DEMANDS: This position involves considerable physical exertion, such as regular lifting of heavy objects (70 pounds or more), assuming awkward positions, and working outdoors for prolonged periods in the weather and temperature extremes common to Omaha, Nebraska. On average, 75% of the day involves cleaning elephant habitats and holding areas. Interns are expected to demonstrate safe working practices at all times and learn effective time management skills.


WORK ENVIRONMENT: The position may involve exposure to chemical substances and physical trauma of a minor nature such as cuts, bruises and minor burns. Exposure to biting flies and mosquitos is also likely. Interns are not allowed to work in direct contact with the elephants but must be aware of and follow the safety guidelines for working in proximity to them.


PUBLIC CONTACT: 1.7 million people visit OHDZA every year. Interns are expected to be polite, professional and courteous to zoo guests at all times. Guest concerns, questions or complaints should be promptly addressed to the Lead Keeper, Supervisor or Curator.


REQUIREMENTS: In addition to a Cover Letter with clearly defined career goals including, but not limited to, how an internship in the Elephant Department at OHDZA would help achieve those goals. Interns must agree to and/or provide the following:

  • A completed application and current resume.
  • 2 professional references
  • An interview (This can be done over the phone or in person).
  • Commitment to working 30-40 hours per week for 12 weeks.
  • Proof of a negative TB test within the past 12 months.



To apply, please visit our website at Be sure to indicate Elephant Internship under the internship area selection.

How to Apply

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
3701 S. 10th Street
Omaha, NE 68107
Phone: 402-733-8401
Fax: 402-733-4415

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