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, observing on-site veterinary procedures, and helping with educational and fundraising programs. Please note: contact is prohibited between the wild cat residents and interns.
The internship duration is 12 weeks. We accept up to five full-time interns for each internship period. Internship starting dates generally coincide with the seasons of the year and may vary due to an intern’s availability.
Internships are non-paid positions. Interns are required to live on-site for the entire duration of the internship period. TWS provides free intern housing for 1-5 people.
Intern Applicant Prerequisites:
- Must be 18 years of age
- Must be fluent in the English language (verbal and written communication)
- Candidates should have at least 2 years of undergraduate program studies in zoology, animal management, biology or related field
- Must provide your own health insurance
- Must be in good physical condition
- Must be able to consistently lift 50 pounds
- Must be comfortable on ladders
- Must hold a valid drivers license
- Must be comfortable driving SUV/ Cargo Van
- Must be able to work in all weather conditions
- Must provide their own mode of transportation to TWS
- Interns must obtain tetanus and pre-exposure rabies vaccinations prior to participating in the internship program
- Interns must send the following application information: a typed resume, cover letter, transcript, copy of driver’s license, and 2 reference contacts to PO Box 314 Sandstone, MN 55072 or email the information to firstname.lastname@example.org. If emailing the document please try and send the combined files in pdf format.
- Application information should be submitted by:
- Spring position- December 15th
- Summer position – February 15th
- Fall position – June 15th
- Winter position – September 15th
Keepers educates 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, cougarsand jaguar indoor and outdoor enclosures.
- Building Enclosures Class: Briefly teaches about the amount and type of hardware that goes in building 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 TWS staff members and veterinarians. 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 keepers. The keepers base the decision 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.
“This internship is definitely not for the faint of heart. My time spent at TWS was as rewarding as it was demanding. Every day they work you hard and expect nothing but the best from you. This internship is both physically and mentally draining and I quickly learned that the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. Working at TWS was truly the experience of a lifetime and it helped me gain valuable skills and understanding as to how to become successful in the field of animal care. I would definitely recommend this animal care internship to anyone who has a passion for keeping, a love and respect for felines, and an extremely strong work ethic.” - Katie B.