Marine Mammals Internship

The Marine Mammals department at Shedd Aquarium consists of four animal teams. Three teams focus on birds and marine mammals, and one focuses on our interactive animal ambassador program. Interns support the daily operations of the department.

We offer two exciting internship opportunities, one focused on marine mammals and one focused on animal ambassador programming. Marine mammals interns help care for Pacific white-sided dolphins, beluga whales, northern and southern sea otters, California sea lions, three species of birds of prey, and rockhopper and Magellanic penguins. Animal ambassador program interns work with various species of birds, reptiles, invertebrates and terrestrial mammals.

These internships are designed to be career learning experiences that offer exposure to animal husbandry, positive reinforcement training, animal behavior and the chance to complete an individual observational or research project. Interns master food prep, recordkeeping and the basics of caring for and feeding animals. They have opportunities to exercise leadership and communication skills and join a network of professionals caring for animals in Chicago and across the country.

Dates and schedule

• Three six-month terms each year, with new terms beginning in early January, mid-May and early September. See application form for specific submission deadlines.
• Marine mammals intern work three 11-hour days a week, including one or both weekend days.
• Animal ambassador program interns work four eight-hour days a week, including one or both weekend days.
• Attendance at three evening seminars is encouraged but not required.


• Public transportation provides inexpensive and easy commuting to Shedd Aquarium.
• Monthly parking at Soldier Field is available to interns for $40 a month or $5 a day.
• Interns are responsible for securing their own housing accommodations.


• Cleaning: A significant portion of time is spent maintaining a clean and healthy environment for the animals. This includes thorough cleaning and disinfection of animal habitats and reserve spaces, kitchens and food prep areas, and animal dishes.
• Food preparation: All interns spend a few hours each shift helping to prepare diets for all the animals. This includes thawing, inspecting, weighing and cutting various food types as well as formula preparation and vitamin administration. Animal ambassador program interns also prepare live feeder insects.
• Recordkeeping: Interns assist in daily recordkeeping, helping to document diets consumed, cleaning chores, behavioral observations, session notes and enrichment details.
• Special project: After mastering the basic chores of the department, each intern is assigned a special project to complete during the internship. A portion of time each day is allocated to the project and interns present their findings in a PowerPoint presentation at the end of the term. Projects might focus on animal enrichment, animal behavior, or data analysis, based on the current needs of the department.
• Marine mammal interns assist in training sessions and aquatic presentations throughout the day. Interns perform a variety of tasks during animal training sessions and aquatic presentations, including operating manual and hydraulic doors, setting up and breaking down equipment, managing guests and assisting trainers during animal training sessions.  
• Animal ambassador program interns assist in public presentations. Interns assist in public encounters, managing crowds, answering questions and handling small animals in front of a group of guests.


• Current enrollment in a degree program or graduation from one. Preference is given to those who are or have studied marine science, psychology, animal care, or a related field.
• At least 18 years old.
• Willingness to support Shedd’s mission and represent the organization well to all guests.
• Commitment to high-quality work and ability to follow directions to maintain high standards of care and cleanliness.
• Strong work ethic, positive attitude and genuine curiosity about animal care and training.
• Ability to work well independently and with a team.
• Ability to communicate openly and professionally, willingness to ask questions and to collaborate toward solutions.
• Ability to regularly work all weekend days and holidays as well as late-night shifts when assigned.
• Ability to lift objects of 40 pounds or more as well as bend, crouch, squat and carry heavy buckets as needed.
• Marine mammals interns will be exposed to cold temperatures and saltwater on a daily basis.
• Animal ambassador program interns will be exposed to cold and warm temperatures, water, fishes, and animal fur and dander on a daily basis.


Please apply online.

Required Materials

• Resume indicating education and employment experiences.
• Cover letter explaining career goals and reasons for interest in an internship with our program.
• Letters of reference from at least three individuals who can vouch for your character and work ethic.

Application Deadlines

Spring - November 1

Summer - March 1

Fall - July 1


Please e-mail Madelynn Hettiger

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