Animal Care Internship
The Wildcat Sanctuary is home to over 100 feline residents; all of which rely heavily on the daily husbandry provided by staff and interns. TWS is looking for hardworking individuals who are dedicated to providing the ultimate care for rescued felines while maintaining strict safety protocols. Our goal is to aid interns in gaining experience in the animal industry while educating them about the sanctuary field and the captive wildlife crisis. Interns will gain valuable experience from exotic feline husbandry, assisting staff in the building of animal enclosures, diet preparation, enrichment, grounds keeping, emergency response, and more. Please note: contact is prohibited between the wild cat residents and interns.
Intern applicants are often college graduates with degrees in the fields of zoology, biology, animal psychology, veterinary sciences, and other animal-related areas, but those without a degree and with animal experience are also considered.
With applicants from across the country applying annually, and only 12-14 positions available, TWS is looking for hard workers who will excel and become the best in their field.
This internship program has also provided a means of recruiting for animal caretaker positions. Over half of our animal care staff have been former TWS interns.
The internship duration is 6 months and interns receive a weekly $50 stipend for food.
Internship starting dates generally coincide with the seasons of the year and may vary due to an intern’s availability.
A 3-month, unpaid internship is available on a case-by-case basis. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to apply.
Interns are required to live on-site for the entire duration of the internship period. TWS provides free intern housing.
TWS is not accepting international applicants at the time.
Intern Applicant Prerequisites:
- Must be 18 years of age
- Must be fluent in the English language (verbal and written communication)
- Must provide your own health insurance
- Must be in good physical condition
- Must be able to kneel, stoop, bend, twist, lift, reach, push, pull, and walk on uneven terrain
- Must be able to consistently lift 60 pounds
- Must be comfortable on ladders
- Must hold a valid driver’s license
- Must be comfortable driving SUV/ Cargo Van
- Must be able to work in all weather conditions and during weather extremes
- Must be able to work 6 days per week, including weekends, holidays and from 8 am to 8 pm
- Must provide their own mode of transportation to TWS
- Interns must obtain tetanus vaccination prior to participating in the internship program
How to Apply
Interns must send the following information: a resume, cover letter, copy of driver’s license, and 2 references along with completed questionnaire to PO Box 314 Sandstone, MN 55072 or email the information to email@example.com. If emailing the document please try and send the combined files in pdf format. September – March and March – September internship sessions currently available. Please indicate which internship session you are interested in.
Animal Caretakers educate every intern through husbandry classes to ensure the safety and care of each of the sanctuary’s residents. Here is a list of some of the classes TWS offers:
- General Animal Information: This class covers protocols for keeper records, animal and enclosure inspections.
- Animal Emergency/ Escape: Interns will be instructed on the different procedures to ensure human and animal safety for all species that TWS houses. These protocols will be practiced regularly throughout the duration of each internship session.
- Safety Equipment: This class is meant to familiarize interns with the various equipment TWS uses. Each intern will learn the name and function of each piece of equipment; however, this is NOT a training class on how to use the chemical immobilization and the lethal force equipment. Interns will learn the proper techniques to using transport equipment; self-protection tools and domestic/ hybrid capture equipment.
- Natural Disaster/Bad Weather Class: This class is meant to educate interns about the system that TWS has in place to provide early warning of severe temperature extremes and weather patterns to keep TWS’s residence safe and secure.
- General Husbandry: Learn the appropriate methods to assessing an animal’s behavior and the environment around them through animal observation skills. Interns are instructed on the importance of enrichment in a captive animal’s life. They will learn the four different types of enrichment, what acceptable forms of enrichment are for various species and the safety precautions of providing enrichment. For the safety of humans and our residents, cats are shifted into “lock-outs” while enclosures are being cleaned or maintained. Interns will learn the appropriate methods for “locking-out” various species ranging from African Servals to Bengal tigers using operant conditioning. This class covers the policies and procedures for food preparation for all of TWS feline species. Interns will also learn the methods to accurately and carefully administer and distribute medication and supplements to TWS’s residents. Quarterly, interns will assist staff in fecals and parasitic prevention for its residents.
- Zone husbandry training: Each intern will rotate through assigned duties and enclosures with one of our keepers. The “green zone” is trained in the daily cleaning/feeding protocols for domestic animals, Bengals, Savannahs, Chausies and Jungle cats. The “yellow zone” is trained in the standard procedures for cleaning and inspecting all servals, caracal, bobcats, and lynx indoor and outdoor enclosures. The “red zone” is trained in on safety SOPs, cleaning and inspecting all tigers, lions, leopard, cougars and jaguar indoor and outdoor enclosures. Interns will be trained to feed green and yellow zones and will shadow red zone.
- Building Enclosures Class: Briefly teaches about the amount and type of hardware that goes inbuilding new enclosures and maintaining current enclosures.
- Captive Wildlife Crisis class: Learn about the estimated 10,000 tigers in captivity in the United States, higher than those living in the wild. In this class interns will learn about the exotic animal trade and why exotic animals are bought and sold. E.g.: private ownership, exhibiting, and breeding of captive wildlife.
- Basic Human First Aid: This class is meant to teach the physical and behavioral signs of more common health condition and concerns. It covers basic treatments and protocols for handling various situations, but by no means equivalent to a C.P.R. training course.
- Events & Guest Relations Class: Covers expectations of interns during educational and fundraising events; in addition, the responsibilities of backing up a tour.
Additional Experiences Interns may be able to partake in:
- Vet procedures: All medical procedures/ treatments are done solely by the Director, Sanctuary Manager and Veterinarian. Interns may be chosen to observe these procedures and treatments. However this is not a guarantee for any intern. It is strictly on a case by case basis that is made by TWS management. The decision is based on the following criteria (but not limited to): risk and safety of humans and animal, intern’s behavior and work ethic, attention to SOPs, the species of the animal and the personality of the animal.
- Behavioral Management Program: This program is a tool used in conjunction with other components to provide a holistic approach to animal care. These components include: enclosure design, diet, enrichment, veterinary care, and husbandry. Interns will participate where it is incorporated into routine animal care. Specific training plans with certain cats will be conducted by the Animal Caretakers. Interns may have the opportunity to observe a training session.