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California Wolf Center Internship Program

California Wolf Center

Photo Credit: Bonnie McDonald

The California Wolf Center is a unique conservation center dedicated to the return of wild wolves to their natural habitat and to the people who share the landscape with them. We foster communities coming together to ensure wolves, livestock, and people thrive in today’s world. To fulfill our mission, we work closely with a large and diverse group of stakeholders. We have a strong presence throughout the Pacific West focusing on California wolf recovery and in the Southwest focusing on Mexican gray wolf recovery.

At our conservation center in Julian, CA, we host several packs of gray wolves. Many are potential release candidates as part of a Species Survival Plan, so we must keep them as wild as possible in order to give them the best chances for survival in the wild. As a result, we avoid any interaction with our resident wolves and ensure the minimum amount of human contact possible.

The California Wolf Center Internship Program is unpaid, and all interns are responsible for their own housing and transportation to and from the center. The commute includes 3/4 of a mile of rugged dirt road, and interns must be willing to drive in and out on this dirt road. Housing is not available onsite, and there is no public transportation in our remote area. There is no fee to participate in the internship program, but you will incur costs for travel, accommodations (if coming from out of the area), and transportation during the internship. You are responsible for covering all of those costs.

Interns who fail to meet program requirements are subject to disciplinary action and/ or early dismissal from the program.

California Wolf Center Animal Care and Education Internship

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must be available 3 days per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday preferred), for 3 consecutive months
  • Must be currently enrolled in an educational program (university or otherwise) that relates to the internship (biology, animal behavior, or wildlife biology, for example)
  • Must provide your own transportation and housing
  • Must be in good physical condition and able to lift and carry 50 pounds
  • Must be able to work in extreme conditions including rain, snow and extreme temperatures
  • A valid driver's license, proof of insurance, and safe driving habits are required
  • What you can expect

    Interns will learn about animal husbandry, enrichment, behavioral observations, record keeping, and habitat maintenance. Interns will also obtain valuable skills in public speaking and education.

    Interns will help with routine animal care, observations, food pickups, habitat maintenance, and educational tours.

    Interns may help with ongoing research projects occurring at the center. Note: this is infrequent and should not be expected as a guaranteed part of the internship. Applicants are welcome to propose their own projects. However, the approval process can be time-intensive, so keep that in mind when applying. This is an optional component of the internship and is not mandatory.

    Job Logistics

    A clean driving record is highly desired. Please note that we may be running a DMV check to verify driving record if you are to be added to our vehicle insurance. You may be driving the California Wolf Center's vehicle to help facilitate animal care and food pickups if you meet additional age and driving record requirements.

    This internship program is not specialized in one area of animal care such as behavioral research or veterinary care. Instead, it is a general animal care program designed to introduce candidates to the wide range of skills required to work with captive wildlife. If you are looking for a program focused on research or veterinary care, this program may not be the best fit for your goals.

    Interns are able to propose their own research projects if that is of interest to you. There is a formal approval process that will require submission of a proposal to the Director of Operations and then to our Board of Directors. The approval process may take several months, and any research considered invasive will also require approval from an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Any research involving Mexican gray wolves will require additional approval from the Mexican Wolf Species Survival Plan.

    Most of our animals are potential release candidates, so they must be kept as wild as possible to give them the best chances for survival if they are selected for release. As a result, we are very hands-off with our animals and do not interact with them. You will not be allowed to interact with the wolves, handle the wolves, etc. On rare occasions, interns may be allowed to observe veterinary care, but the actual handling is performed by our experienced staff for the safety of both wolves and humans.

    California Wolf Center

    How to apply

    To apply to the internship program, please submit a one to two page resume, one page cover letter, and two letters of recommendation to Heidi, Animal Care Manager (link to email). Applications are accepted year-round, though typical start dates would be in February or March (Spring), May or June (Summer), August or September (Fall), or November or December (Winter). Please specify ideal start and end dates in the cover letter. Please note that we recommend submitting your application at least 60 days before your ideal start date. Submissions may be or faxed to 760-888-0333. For more information, please call 760-765-0030 or .

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