Internship Program

In 1997, TCWR established an internship program for students desiring more experience in the care of exotic cats and animals. Intern applicants are college graduates with degrees in the fields of zoology, biology, animal psychology, veterinary sciences, and other animal-related areas.

Internships are available for 6 months and TCWR provides housing, a small stipend, and learning experiences for 18 students at a time. Several colleges (and zoos) across the country recommend Turpentine Creek as a model in exotic animal care; typically over 100 students from across the country apply for these 18 positions each 6 month period.Some of the universities represented by our interns includeTexas A & M University, University of Illinois, University of Nebraska,Humboldt State University, University of Florida,Ithaca College, University of California,Colorado State University, and Brigham Young University.

As of August, 2016, over 1,500 students have applied for our prestigious internship program, and more than 450 college graduates have completed a six-month internship at TCWR. Many of these interns have ultimately gone on to work in zoos and other establishments throughout the U.S. and abroad and many have continued their pursuits of education in veterinary medicine.

This internship program has also provided a means of recruiting needed expertise. Six of the college graduates who have interned at TCWR have returned as permanent employees. TCWR staff now includes two zoologists and four biologists.

Exotic Cat Internship

Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge is a no-kill facility dedicated to rescuing abused, abandoned and unwanted big cats. The refuge is located in NW Arkansas is seeking a full-time, 6 months Intern Keeper. The refuge is a non-profit facility for exotic cats, bears, and other exotic animals. Work is often physically demanding. Applicants must be self-motivated, with high desire to provide the best care available to animals. Applicants must also be observant and able to keep detailed records. The ability to work in a team environment or independently is important. A degree in Zoology, Biology or related field is preferred, but experience with exotic animal husbandry may be considered. Twelve positions are opened each internship. Internships run every six months. If you are looking for a full-time internship working around big cats you just may have found it.

Job Description:

  • Work in a Captive Animal Institution – Responsible for the daily care of Tigers, Lions, Cougars, Black Bears, Black Leopards, African Servals, Bobcats, Rhesus Macaque, and Hoof stock. Duties include animal husbandry, enrichment, record keeping of animal behavior, educational public tours, and customer service.
  • Prepare and Present Information to the Public – Responsible for greeting customers and guided tours throughout the facility. Educate the public about each resident species and the direction of the facility’s future.
  • Prepare and Maintain Animal Housing – Responsible for maintaining animal and customer safety through daily exhibit checks. This includes routine landscaping, clearing habitats of underbrush, and providing animal enrichment.
  • Prepare Diets and Monitor Feeding – Maintain food quality and hygiene standards or produce and meat. Prepare and diets and monitor every animal’s intake. Feed all animals and observe quantities of waste for diet recommendations. Record weight loss or gain for each animal.
  • Monitor and Maintain Animal Health – Maintain daily records of animal defecation and any loss of appetite to identify any abnormal behavior and signs of illness. Administer daily medications. Prepare and maintain quarantine areas for recent rescues.
  • Restrain and Assist in Moving Animals – Assist in relocating cats to more appropriate enclosures. Follow all safety procedures in loading and unloading and during transport of animals.
  • Identify Behavioral Needs and Improve Husbandry – Identify behavioral needs and provide approved enrichment for the animals which includes but may not be limited to environmental and scent enrichments.
  • Maintain Exhibits and Assist With Design – Assist with the design and construction of 1/2 acre enclosures. Maintain exhibits daily and detect and control pests. place power to control ticks and clear underbrush to prevent snakes.


Weekly cash stipend for food. Housing is provided on the refuge. Amenities: Heat, A/C, utilities paid, full bath, kitchen, washer & dryer, satellite TV, free long distance, internet access.


Fall Position begins: August 15th Spring Position begins: February 1st

Deadline for fall internship applications: April 1 Deadline for spring internship applications: November 1

To Apply:

Send your Cover Letter and Resume to:

Emily McCormack Curator/Intern Recruiter

** 2 Letters of Recommendation Required