Do you have a passion for wildlife and an interest in conservation? Join an animal care internship abroad and work towards a career as a conservationist, wildlife biologist or animal-care supervisor. From researching endangered species to conducting health checks on sea turtles to rehabilitating forest elephants, our animal care internships expose you to incredible practical learning.
If you love to travel and want to work with animals in a responsible, ethical way – an animal care internship abroad is right for you. These internships are perfect for summer vacation, gap year experience or career development. From tropical forests to cascading mountains, we run animal related internships across the globe.
This gives you the chance to learn conservation, wildlife rehabilitation and animal care practices while supporting local on-the-ground organisations. You can contribute to the well-being of animals and their habitats, while making a positive impact.
Our programs run in various countries, including:
When you participate in an animal care internship, you’ll gain valuable skills for your career. Our programs expose you to many different species, allowing you to contribute to conservation efforts from land to sea. Species include:
Our animal care internships cater to people with varying skills, experience, interests and goals. Responsibilities on site will depend on where you’re based and what you’re hoping to get out of the internship, but can include research, field work, and support.
Every activity you join while on an animal care internship gives you the chance to build on your professional skill set, and add to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 15: Life on Land.
In addition to your work experience on a GVI animal care internship, you’ll have down time to explore the landscape and experience the customs and culture of where you’re based.
Practise responsible tourism by supporting local establishments (get the inside scoop from our field staff); ignite your adventurous spirit by zip lining through forests or hiking mountains; lounge on the beach while listening to crashing waves; join a cooking experience and visit a local market; or take a longer journey to a neighbouring island.
GVI currently operates animal care internships in Costa Rica, Greece, Seychelles and Thailand. Scroll down to get a snapshot of the activities at each location, and click the included links to find out more.
Head to the birthplace of ecotourism and participate in sea turtle research and conservation projects in vibrant Costa Rica. Here, you’ll assist with day and night-time surveys of sea turtle nesting locations. Costa Rica hosts three different turtle species – green, hawksbill and leatherback – all of which are endangered or vulnerable.
Here you’ll contribute to sea turtle conservation, learn camera trapping techniques, conduct biodiversity surveys, and work on environmental education programs.
Travel to one of Greece’s most undisturbed coastal ecosystems, Kyparissia Bay in the western Peloponnese. Here, you’ll learn about and assist with critical conservation efforts to protect loggerhead sea turtles. Participate in daily surveys of nesting activity, protect eggs and hatchlings from predation, and assist with relocation efforts if necessary.
You’ll also develop key leadership tools including soft and hard skills that will boost your marine conservation experience. This project is geared toward long-term benefits to the local community and environment.
In the mountainous region of Chiang Mai, you can work with community members to reintegrate Asian elephants into the forest. These elephants have been removed from the tourism industry and are part of a semi-wild herd. Your role as an intern will involve community development, biodiversity and elephant research.
Or, head to the Thai coast and join our coastal conservation internship. Volunteer with our partner at the Royal Thai Navy’s Sea Turtle Conservation Center, where you’ll learn about rehabilitation and enrichment techniques for sea turtles. Get hands-on cleaning turtle tanks, conducting biodiversity surveys, running beach cleanups and more.
GVI has a strong stance on ethically engaging with wildlife and habitats, and we’re dedicated to conservation best practices and animal welfare. We believe that many communities around the world are inextricably linked to the natural environments around them.
At all of our bases around the world, whether we’re involved in animal care or conservation programs, we always work with local communities. Alongside local organisations, we provide educational workshops that aim to improve the understanding of local wildlife and habitats, including sustainable interaction and resource use.
We do not offer or condone medical veterinary experiences with our volunteers or interns. This follows our “first, do no harm” policy, which you can read about here.
We’re committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including #14 Life Below Water and #15 Life Above Land. We believe in promoting conservation best practices and animal welfare across all our programs.
Read more about our ethics around animal care and wildlife conservation internships and volunteer experiences here.
Safety is a top priority. We believe that interning and volunteering abroad should be fun, safe, thrilling and educational – with as little risk as possible. From the moment you book a program with GVI, you’ll be in constant contact with one of our support coordinators who will ensure you have all the necessary information to make your experience smooth and safe.
All of our field staff are trained by GVI to prioritise safety and security for participants. From background checks to first aid to child protection training, we prioritise safety. To learn more about support, safety, health and risk mitigation, visit this page on our website.
In our competitive world, to get the job you really want, you have to stand out from the crowd.
For many people, working with animals is a dream job. Animal care and related fields are highly competitive. Getting experience on an animal related internship can put you ahead of the competition as you build your career.
As an animal care intern you’ll have opportunities to take on leadership responsibilities. You’ll also have access to quality mentorship. This is one of the reasons an animal related internship is a strong option for participants who have a clearer idea of the direction they want to take in their career.
Our animal care internships take your skills development further than on a standard volunteer program. In addition to animal-specific experience, you’ll cultivate widely applicable skills like teamwork, leadership, critical thinking and problem solving.
Every GVI animal care internship is rated more than nine out of ten by GoAbroad.com because of the impact of the programs, the variety of incredible destinations, and the type of work experience you gain.
And GVI’s international animal related internships can add to your field credibility in a big way when applying for jobs. You’ll have access to GVI’s Wildlife Conservation online course as part of your training and gain a certificate from the University of Richmond on completion of your program. Add this to your resume and future employers will know you have valuable skills and ability for the job.
We’ve tried to cover some of the most frequently asked questions about animal care internships below. If we missed anything, please reach out to us! We’d love to chat with you about your interest in an animal care internship.
Q: Where will I stay on an animal care internship?
A: Accommodation varies by location, but typically interns and volunteers are placed in communal housing. This could be in tents (as in Greece), in a dormitory style setting (as in Costa Rica), in a hotel or even in a bed and breakfast. Shared accommodation allows interns and volunteers to get to know people from all over the world with similar interests and passions. Accommodation upgrades are also available at some locations, for participants who’d like to escape for some quiet time.
Q: Is it safe to interact with and handle wild animals?
A: First, we absolutely do not condone handling wild animals without supervision. In most cases, wild animals should be left alone. However, if you’re working with a reputable and ethical animal care organisation, handling animals is often part of the job. You can rest assured that you’ll be taking part in work that won’t put you or the wild animal at risk of harm.
All of GVI’s local staff and partners have expertise in the field and will supervise you to keep you safe while still allowing you to gain valuable experience. GVI also has a strict stance on animal interaction that is applied to every animal care internship we run.
Q: Is it necessary to interact with or handle wild animals on an animal care internship abroad?
A: It’s not always essential to interact with wild animals to contribute to their conservation. In some cases, however, it is necessary to intervene in the best interest of the animal. All of our international animal care internships only allow for interactions that are essential to the well-being of the animals involved.
The best example of this is in relocating sea turtle nests that have been placed in harm’s way. In these cases, the benefits of interacting with wild animals – under the supervision of experts – outweighs the risks.
Q: What’s the difference between an animal care summer internship and an animal care internship?
A: Animal care internships typically run from 2–12 weeks. A longer internship allows you to gain additional skills and experience towards your career. Animal care summer or short-term internships are shortened experiences for those who want to get a head start in the field while they’re on their summer break from high school or university.
Summer animal care internships are structured in the same way as any other animal care internship, they’re just a bit shorter. You’ll stay at the same base and work with the same local and international partners.
Because animal behaviour changes according to the seasons, the projects you work on during a summer animal care internship might be different from projects available at other times of the year. For example, sea turtles have different nesting seasons, not all of which overlap with summer months. Speak with one of our enrolment officers to learn more and plan your internship accordingly!