Fall 2021 Term:
- Applications due Friday, June 18
- Determination letters sent by Friday, July 16
- Term: August 31 – December 20
Zoo Atlanta’s Ambassador Animals Department plays an integral role in the Zoo’s mission by raising awareness of conservation issues and providing engaging, educational and entertaining experiences as we strive to inspire people to environmental action.
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: What are Ambassador Animals? We are the most diverse department in the Zoo, caring for every animal taxa with the exception of fish. Ambassador Animals are animals that have close contact with Zoo guests on a regular basis. These include our show birds, animals used for educational programming both on and off grounds and our contact yard with goats, sheep and Kune kune pigs. Although Ambassador Animals keepers and interns do not conduct classroom programs, keepers do conduct informal animal encounters on zoo grounds, host two different live animal shows on grounds and work in the contact yard.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day we have up to four shows per day, five to six days per week. Much of the internship during this time will be spent ensuring keepers are able to present a high-quality show to our guests by being an active participant in behind-the-scenes show preparation. This is also busy season for our contact yard, so interns will be able to gain valuable guest interaction experience as well as daily hands-on animal experience.
The fall season brings a slower pace for the department to catch up from the summer on various projects. This internship is focused around enrichment building, assisting in solving training challenges observed during the summer, an increase in informal animal encounters, preparatory work for our annual workshop, and preparatory work for the winter. The contact yard sees a large influx of school children on field trips, which provides great opportunities to gain experience with conservation messaging to young children.
The winter season typically is much more husbandry focused. There is a lot that goes into keeping the animals warm during the colder months as well as enriched without as much time outdoors and interacting with guests. This is also the season we do most of our annual physicals for animals, so it’s a great time for interns interested in the vet field to see some of that in action.
The spring is primarily about prepping for the busy season. This is focused around show design and rehearsal, training novel behaviors, and aesthetic work ensuring that all areas are in tip top shape for the summer crowds. This is usually the second round of large field trip numbers in the contact yard before kids are out for the summer.
RESPONSIBILITIES: This voluntary program provides the intern with professional experience in the daily care of the Ambassador Animals collection. This collection includes snakes, lizards, invertebrates, small mammals, goats, sheep, pigs and a variety of birds. The main role of interns is to be educated in the roles and responsibilities of being an Ambassador Animals keeper. This education is provided by participating in many keeper duties which may include cleaning animal enclosures and barn stalls to mopping area floors to making and giving behavioral based enrichment. Opportunities for participating in animal training sessions and animal contact is not guaranteed to any intern and is determined based on the individual intern’s performance during the early part of their internship. By demonstrating a strong work ethic, interns may have the chance to participate in animal encounters and behind the scenes show and training support.
• Learn the roles and responsibilities of Ambassador Animals keepers.
• Understand the basic health and welfare needs of the animals in the collection.
• When possible, meet zoo staff in other departments.
• Gain knowledge in the behind-the-scenes workings of Zoo Atlanta.
• Gain invaluable experience and knowledge with a diverse animal collection that will assist you in making choices regarding a future career in this field. This includes numerous opportunities for informal guest education opportunities.
• Must be 18 years of age or older (Upper Classman and recent graduates preferred)
• Must be able to commit to 4 assigned, 9 hour days (8:00-4:30) with 1 hour for lunch throughout the internship term
• Must provide proof of negative TB test and be willing to submit to a background check
• Must be able to work quietly, efficiently and safely around live animals. This includes the ability to follow specific protocols and guidelines that are in place to ensure your safety and that of the animals. Any Intern who demonstrates an inability to follow written protocols and guidelines will be dismissed at the discretion of the Animal Ambassadors department and the Manager of Volunteer Programs.
PHYSICAL DEMANDS: Must be able to be on your feet for up to 4 hours at a time and lift up to 25 pounds.
WORK ENVIRONMENT: Must be able to work indoors and outdoors in all weather conditions.