Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Internship Program
The Wisconsin Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is an urban wildlife hospital with a staff of four full-time and two part-time licensed wildlife rehabilitators and over 150 volunteers. Over 5,000 sick, injured and orphaned wild animals of nearly 150 different species are cared for each year with the ultimate goal being of released back into the wild.
Upon completion of our internship, interns should have acquired a working knowledge of the basics of wildlife rehabilitation and valuable experience and insight into a career working with wildlife. Interns should expect to learn about a variety of subjects central to the practice of wildlife rehabilitation with emphasis on animal husbandry and supportive care (note: this is not a veterinary internship. We work closely with our veterinarians, but we do not have a wildlife veterinarian on staff). Topics include:
- Limiting stress in captive wild animals
- Facility sanitation and animal food hygiene
- Zoonotic disease transmission prevention
- Formula selection and feeding techniques for orphaned mammals and birds
- Maintaining accurate animal care records
- Medicating animals by various routes and basic fluid therapy techniques
- General release criteria for rehabilitated wildlife
Qualifications and Expectations
The WHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is looking for motivated undergraduate or graduate students majoring in biology, wildlife management or ecology, natural sciences, pre-veterinary, or related fields; wildlife rehabilitators seeking more experience will also be considered. Previous animal handling experience is a plus.
Ideal interns are emotionally-mature, hard-working, reliable, enthusiastic, conscientious individuals who are willing to perform a variety of tasks with a smile. Good communication skills and an ability to effectively work in a team environment are essential. Candidates must be committed to treating animals with kindness and respect. A successful wildlife intern should also be able to work well under pressure and time constraints, as well as multi-task efficiently (and still enjoy their work!). A WHS Wildlife Center Intern will take full advantage of the internship by accepting increasing amounts of responsibility throughout their internship.
Interns must be available evenings, weekends and holidays. They must also be available for the entirety of their internship; due to the seasonal busyness of our work, vacation requests are very rarely approved. Though we limit each intern’s hours to about 40 per week, working more than eight hours on a given day is sometimes necessary to complete essential animal care duties. At times, this can be a physically demanding position. Interns must be able to stand for eight hours a day, bend, lift, stoop, twist, crawl, and be able to lift 50 pounds up to waist level. A sense of humor helps as well!
A limited number of paid internship positions (generally 6-8) are available with staggered start dates between April 1 and June 1 and staggered end dates between the end of August and the beginning of October. Interns will be accepted for a minimum of a twelve-week period, but a longer stay is encouraged. Interns are paid $7.25 per hour, and receive a paycheck biweekly. Interns must be up-to-date on their tetanus vaccinations. Interns are responsible for their own transportation and living arrangements – we are unable to provide housing.
Hands-on training will begin by working primarily in our Wildlife Nursery, but also in our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Treatment Center (long-term recuperation center). Interns are immediately immersed into the work and function as a valuable staff member. Primary tasks include cage cleaning and laundry, facility cleaning and maintenance, animal food preparation and feeding, and administering staff-directed treatments and medications.
A comprehensive Intern Manual which contains departmental procedures is provided to all interns, as well as an introductory class provided by the Wildlife Team Leader once all interns have started. There will always be a staff wildlife rehabilitator available for questions and assistance. Training may also include assisting with our telephone hotline, animal-intake and reception duties, animal rescues and releases, and more.
How to Apply for Paid Wildlife Rehabilitation Internship Opportunities
Applications are accepted beginning in early January and are accepted until all positions are filled. Applicants need to submit their application through our website http://www.wihumane.org/employment by filling out the application and attaching their cover letter (which includes their dates of availability), resume, and 3 references.
Part-time Volunteer Externship Opportunities
As small number of part-time unpaid externship opportunities are available on a limited basis to qualified and motivated individuals. This opportunity combines multiple volunteer positions into one cohesive role and is geared towards college students or recent graduates actively seeking to gain experience in wildlife rehabilitation. Volunteer externs are scheduled approximately 16-20 hours per week, for at least 3 months during our busy season. Individuals interested in this opportunity should contact the Wildlife Team Leader at firstname.lastname@example.org to determine if this opportunity may be a good fit for your goals.