Internship Program

Black Pine Animal Sanctuary offers two unpaid internship programs.  The Exotic Animal Care Internship program enables students to gain a broad husbandry experience caring for up to 50 different species of animals.  The Primates (& More) Internship program is focused primarily on the care of resident small and large primates, primate enrichment, behaviors, and may include husbandry for other species as well.

Students who have completed a Black Pine internship have gone on to secure paid positions at veterinary clinics and hospitals, animal shelters, research firms, and at some of the nation's finest zoological institutions, including:

Shedd Aquarium
Brookfield Zoo
Columbian Park Zoo
Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
Frank Buck Zoo
Dallas Zoo
Washington Park Zoo
Northwest Trek
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Louisville Zoo
SeaWorld Orlando
Zooquarium at Cape Cod
Yosemite National Park


Interns will not be compensated.  There are no living stipends offered with this program, however a furnished apartment is available and will be assigned for use on a "greatest need" basis.  Interns are otherwise responsible for securing their own housing, transportation, etc.  Local apartment management companies may also offer short-term leases exclusively to interns.  Contact information will be provided upon request to explore rental opportunities.


Each intern will be provided a staff handbook that will provide written expectations, instructions, policies, and guidelines.  Interns will be expected to read all materials provided and sign all documents required prior to beginning the internship.  Documents requiring a signature may include a waiver of liability and compensation, harassment-free workplace policy, acceptance and receipt of staff handbook, and an internship agreement.  Additional written work instructions, charts, and other resources will be posted and made available for reference at any time.


Each intern will be provided performance evaluation(s), in writing upon request.  A letter of recommendation will be provided at the end of the internship period.  Any additional evaluations as required for college credit will also be provided upon request.


Interns will be provided the same opportunity to earn “staff rewards” as volunteer staff members.  As milestones are reached, measured in hours worked, reward items will be earned.  All rewards earned will be given to the intern at or prior to the end of their internship period.  A certificate of completion will also be provided at the completion of the program for the intern’s portfolio.

College/University Credit Hours

While interns may be eligible to earn college credit for completing an internship, the responsibility lies upon the student to determine, with their college or university advisor, what is required in order to be awarded such credit.   Interns will be responsible for communicating any such requirements to their site supervisor as soon as possible to determine if they may be met within the internship program and organization’s own policies and guidelines.


The goals of Black Pine's exotic animal care internship programs are to

  • Provide a quality mentoring experience for pre-professionals pursuing a career in animal science or an animal care facility
  • Provide a unique opportunities for hands-on learning through a diverse animal population and small, non-profit business environment
  • Help mold the next generation of exotic animal advocates to positively affect both captive and wild exotic animal populations
  • Provide the best human resources possible to carry out the organization’s non-profit mission
  • Increase the visibility of Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in the community
  • Increase the level of excellence in the organization’s operations

Minimum Requirements

  • At least 18 years old with valid driver’s license and reliable transportation
  • Minimum commitment of 20 hours per week, and 400 hours total; (recommended 10 weeks at 40 hours per week)
  • Available to work weekdays and willing to work some weekends and holidays
  • Be able to lift up to 30 pounds
  • Able to stand/walk for extended periods of time
  • Able and willing to read and follow verbal and written work instructions and work independently
  • Willing to assist with administrative, customer relations, and housekeeping tasks as well as animal care
  • Able to commit to upholding all Sanctuary safety and personnel policies, and support the overall non-profit mission

Internship applications are accepted year-round with start and end dates to be determined on a case by case basis.




Black Pine's small, yet diverse primate population offers an extraordinary opportunity for students interested in specializing in primate study and care.

The goals of the Primates (& More) Internship program are to

  • Provide a high quality, immersive learning experience for pre-professionals pursuing a career involving primates
  • Provide unique opportunities to advance and gain responsibilities caring for multiple species of non-human primates in a safe and enriching environment
  • Help mold the next generation of captive exotic animal advocates to positively affect both captive and wild exotic animal populations
  • Provide the best human resources possible to carry out the organization's non-profit mission to provide a long-term, healthy, enriching home to captive-raised former "pet" primates, and other animals
  • Increase the visibility of Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in the community
  • Enhance and continually improve the quality of care provided to resident primates
  • Increase the level of excellence in the organization's overall operation

Minimum Requirements

  • At least 21 years old with valid driver’s license and reliable transportation
  • Minimum commitment of ten weeks on site to complete a minimum of 400 total hours of service
  • Available to work weekdays and willing to work some weekends and holidays
  • Able and willing to read and follow verbal and written work instructions and work independently
  • Proof of negative tuberculosis (TB) skin test result within the past 10 months; proof of tetanus shot; free of other communicable diseases or illnesses
  • Adherence to all facility policies and given instructions


  • Have already completed one or more years of post-high school education
  • Have some previous primary caregiver experience for one or more non-domestic captive species
  • Physically fit; able to lift up to 30 pounds, stand/walk for extended periods of time
  • Able and willing to assist with administrative, customer relations, and other non-husbandry tasks
  • Excellent work ethic; able to work well independently or as part of a team
  • Good verbal communication skills
  • Good organizational and problem-solving skills


Black Pine Animal Sanctuary’s “Primates (& More) Internship” program offers an intensively immersive opportunity to learn about Old World and New World monkeys, and is highlighted by the opportunity to be a primary caregiver to “Tarzan”, a resident adult chimpanzee.  Training will begin one-on-one with experienced animal caregivers and will progress at a pace that is suitable for each individual in the program.

Participants will work first with rhesus macaques, a lion-tailed macaque, baboon, Garnett’s greater bush baby, and cotton-top tamarins, as well as a variety of birds and some other small exotic mammals who reside in the same geographic portion of the sanctuary.  Progression to chimpanzee care, and ultimately independent work opportunities, will be entirely dependent on work performance and the ability to adhere to established routines, safety protocols, and time management.  Assessments will be made daily, even hourly, to help facilitate swift movement through the training process.

This program will provide extensive opportunities to observe animal behaviors, to use a variety of operant training methods, and to learn the value of problem-solving on a daily basis.  Extreme emphasis will be placed on safety at all times, as well as learning and understanding well-established, and highly effective, daily husbandry routines.  This program will not provide or allow free contact with primates.  Independent care of the chimpanzee is not inferred.

Assignments will routinely include diet preparation, cleaning, animal enrichment, occasional delivery of medications, general housekeeping and record-keeping.  Participants will be challenged to advance to the highest level of responsibility – nearly equal to that of the senior-most caregivers on the organization’s paid staff – a goal that is attainable if performance at each stage of training is exceptional!  Those who perform at the “top” will enjoy the added opportunity to participate routinely in animal husbandry for many other taxa, including grazing animals, reptiles, and small and large carnivores, if they wish.

Black Pine’s daily routine requires primate keepers to begin at 8:00 a.m. daily and to work throughout most of the morning, then return to the primate area again at between 3:30 and 5:00 p.m.   Assignments mid-day may include observation, enrichment, or special projects, or could include husbandry in other areas of the sanctuary, if applicable.

As required by the program of veterinary care, interns will also assist with routine capture/restraint and preventive care practices and procedures that may include vaccinations, TB tests, blood draws, first aid, etc.  All ‘invasive’ veterinary procedures, and those required by law, will be supervised by a licensed veterinarian and will most likely occur on site.  Some transports off site may be necessary, but are unpredictable.

As the weeks progress, interns will also participate in the process of training others, which may include volunteers, other student interns, high school student job shadows, and others.  Opportunities to educate the public will also be available.

Black Pine Animal Sanctuary is a nonprofit organization 501(C)(3) managed by a very small paid staff supported entirely by volunteers.  One full-time executive director and one part-time paid keeper manage the day to day operations and oversee all volunteer and intern assignments.  A volunteer group of eight “senior-level” keepers, two veterinary assistants, and six administrative support staff round out the management staff, with approximately 30 additional volunteer keepers, maintenance workers, and others working on a regular routine basis.

Black Pine’s veterinary program is managed by three licensed DVM’s who are assisted by their own paid staff, and who welcome the participation of others within the Black Pine roster who are students of veterinary medicine, and/or have professional experience in veterinary medicine.  They consult routinely with other DVM’s working in zoological parks and elsewhere caring for exotic species.  Care for the chimpanzee is also guided largely by the expertise and consultations of representatives from Lincoln Park Zoo’s Project ChimpCARE.

Black Pine does not buy, sell, breed, trade, or use animals for commercial purposes.  There is no “free contact” allowed with any primates, carnivores, or other potentially dangerous animals, and very limited protected contact allowed with even seemingly harmless animals.  Any ‘contact’ that is allowed is so for the purposes of enrichment and/or veterinary care and is done under close scrutiny for safety of both animals and humans.

There is no history of research activities taking place at the facility, though such requests would be given consideration so long as it was otherwise appropriate within the scope of the organization’s non-profit mission.

Black Pine is supported solely by donations and educational program fees, and does not receive any governmental or routine outside agency funding. The sanctuary is open for guided educational tours seasonally.  Visitor rules and expectations are ‘strict’, and all visitors are chaperoned through close observation and/or one-on-one attention with no tolerance for any abusive or disrespectful behavior.

At this time, Black Pine is not able to offer accommodations for interns.  However, with the support of a local property management firm, recommendations can be made for reasonably priced rental apartments that are very nearby, with month-to-month short-term lease options.  We encourage, and will help facilitate efforts for interns to share housing and related expenses.  Interns will be responsible for transportation to and from the site, a short distance away, but not ideal for foot, bicycle, or other ‘economical’ forms of transportation due to the nature of the sanctuary setting, climate, and potentially dangerous winding country roads.  Black Pine does not offer or provide any healthcare insurance or other benefits.

Internship applications are accepted year-round with start and end dates to be determined on a case by case basis.

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Current Openings

Fall 2014 positions are filled.

Applications will be considered for start dates from Nov. 2014 and beyond.

To Apply to Internship Program

Please submit the following:

  1. Complete the Online Application
  2. Cover Letter explaining why you are interested in the program and why you should be accepted into the program.
  3. Resume
  4. Two letters of recommendation
  5. Email to

OR Mail to:

Black Pine Internships
P.O. Box 02
Albion, IN 46701

Applications are accepted year-round.