The Close Encounters program provides unique, engaging on-site animal experiences to zoo guests through enrichment, training, and ambassador animal programs. The Close Encounters department is responsible for the daily management and care of 23 mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates representing nearly twenty different species. Staff and animals participate in encounters around the Zoo, as well as multi-species programs at the Zoo’s Lakeside Terrace and Discovery Bay Stadium that focus on education and conservation.

Year-round Internship Opportunities:
Internships are approximately 30-40 hours per week for duration of 10-14 weeks. Start and end dates are flexible. College credit is required.

Responsibilities for the Close Encounters Internship include assisting in cleaning, diet preparation, feeding, monitoring, and enriching the Close Encounters ambassador animals as well as conducting behavioral observations, assisting with encounters and programs throughout the Zoo, and interacting with Zoo guests.

Duties to include:

  • Assist staff with daily husbandry of the Close Encounters animal collection (African Crested Porcupine, African Grey Parrot, American Kestrel, Beaver, Eastern Screech Owl, Striped Skunk, Tamandua, Three-Banded Armadillo, Two-toed Sloth, Black and White Tegu, Pancake Tortoise, and various other reptiles and invertebrates) including cleaning animal enclosures as well as preparing and feeding animal diets
  • Assist Close Encounters staff with programs for Zoo guests that feature the animals and/or how behavior husbandry enhances their care.
  • Observe and assist with interpretation of training demonstrations around the zoo
  • Research the natural history of the Close Encounters animals for behavior management goal planning
  • Maintain accurate records
  • Learn and practice methods of behavioral observation, positive reinforcement training techniques, enrichment creation and implementation, and public speaking
  • Assist with additional tasks as needed

For more information, please contact: Internship Coordinator, Human Resources 13000 Zoo Boulevard, Apple Valley, MN 55124 E-mail: Human.resources.mnzoo@state.mn.us Fax: 952.431.9211         or

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All application materials should be sent to the Internship Coordinator by email at Human.Resources .mnzoo@state.mn.us