Animal Keeper Apprentice

Position Description
The Brandywine Zoo is seeking a dynamic and engaging person to join our team!  We are searching for a qualified and dedicated candidate to fill a one year Animal Keeper Apprenticeship. This is a full time, 37.5-hour a week volunteer position with stipend. This person will work directly alongside senior zookeeper staff in the Animal Care Department of the Zoo. The Brandywine Zoo is proudly accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The Animal Keeper Apprentice will be paired with a keeper mentor and function as a member of the animal care team independently once trained. This unique opportunity will offer the chance to gain valuable knowledge and skills relevant to animal husbandry and welfare in AZA accredited zoological institutions. This is a hands-on position and the apprentice will be expected to be involved in all facets of our small zoo including animal nutrition, veterinary care, exhibit maintenance, facility maintenance and landscaping.

Demonstration of Learning:
All interns will complete a project of the apprentice’s own design, and approved by zoo staff, during the internship period.

Required Qualifications:

  • At least 18 years old with valid driver’s license and reliable transportation
  • Provide proof of negative TB Test within the last 12 months before start date
  • Availability for a 12 month uninterrupted full-time apprenticeship; ability to work weekend days and flexible hours as schedules dictate.
  • Fluent in the English language (verbal and written communication); willing and able to read and follow verbal and written work instructions
  • Experience in the care, feeding and cleaning of animals and exhibits in a zoo, farm, rehab or veterinary situation for at least 3 month or longer.
  • Education: Working toward or already have a degree in Animal Science, Pre-Vet, Zoology, Wildlife Conservation, or other related degrees and must have a strong interest in pursuing a professional career in animal husbandry and zoo animal management.
  • Physical Condition: ability to stand/walk for extended periods of time, kneel, crouch and climb in all weather conditions on uneven terrain; be able to lift up to 50 pounds with little to no assistance.
  • Willing and able to safely work with a variety of live animals, including reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and mammals; able to commit to upholding all Zoo safety and personnel policies, and support the overall zoo mission.
  • Exhibit consistent professional characteristics such as a positive attitude, ability to listen to instruction, ability to show initiative, emotional maturity and self-responsibility; work well as part of a team as well as independently; flexible with assignment: willing and able to assist with administrative, customer relations and housekeeping tasks – other duties as assigned.

Preferred Skills:

  • Knowledge of hand and small power tools, basic grounds keeping and cleaning, ability to identifying browse
  • Experience with diet preparation for multiple taxonomic groups.
  • Experience with safety and emergency protocols
  • Experience with capture and restraint
  • Exhibit maintenance and repair, perching and exhibit design
  • Basic operant condition training and knowledge of enrichment design, implementation
  • Experience in public interaction; able to participate in and deliver keeper talks and other public programming
  • Record keeping both written and electronic
  • Performed complete keeper duties for at least one AZA previous facility for 6 months or longer with a preference for experience with multiple taxonomic groups (terrestrial mammals, reptiles, birds, etc.).

Apprentices receive in depth, on the job training from the zoo experts. Apprentices are also enrolled in the San Diego Zoo Global Online Learning Academy with free access to hundreds of online courses relevant to zoo and aquarium animal care and management. Additionally, the position will develop critical skills for those interested in a career in conservation, animal management, or ecological studies. Opportunities for school credit are available.

Brandywine Zoo – Wilmington, DE

Year-round, 37.5 hours/week (equates to 5 days/week)

Shift Times
8am-4pm. Ability to work weekends and holidays required

Direct Supervisor
Assistant Curator

$400/month. Apprentices are not employees of the State of Delaware. They are considered volunteers and are not paid for their service. Apprentices may elect to receive a stipend to help cover expenses incurred during their volunteer intern service. The stipend is a fixed amount for service of 30 or more hours per week; paid biweekly as a direct deposit into the Intern’s bank account.

Free, dorm style housing is available on a first come first serve basis. Limited co-ed housing is available, at no fee, for apprentices providing full-time hours (37.5 hrs per week). If selected for housing, an apprentice will share a furnished house, duplex or dorm facility with other interns.


  • Full access to the San Diego Zoo Global Academy course-list for the duration of the internship; certificate upon completion.
  • Networking opportunity and access to 180+ years of professional experience and knowledge via current zoo staff.
  • Potential training in numerous animal husbandry and zoo facility skills such as exhibit design and maintenance, animal nutrition, landscaping, small tool use, veterinary care, operant conditioning and public speaking.
  • Free access to all Delaware State Parks during internship or volunteer duration including Delaware Seashore and Fort Delaware.
  •  Job shadow opportunities at nearby AZA zoos when scheduling permits.