The Mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature.  We live our mission through our core values.

Brookfield Zoo
Opened in 1934, Brookfield Zoo is managed by the Chicago Zoological Society and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Chicago Zoological Society is committed to developing people’s capacities and competencies, serving as a mentor and trainer, providing experiential learning opportunities to individuals seeking to understand, develop, and establish careers in the fields of zoology and conservation.

In fulfilling this role, the Society has a long-standing Internship Program that has been recognized as one of the top programs for college students in the country. The program, established in 1975, was one of the first in the nation to allow students pursuing careers in animal care the opportunity to work side by side with professional zookeepers, learning the skills and techniques necessary to manage exotic zoo animals. Since that time, the Internship Program, now called the College Experiential Learning Opportunities (C.E.L.O.) program, has evolved to include internships and research opportunities in a variety of areas and fields.


C.E.L.O. offers you:

  • Mentoring and Coaching
  • Training
  • Hands-on, relevant, real experience

Zookeeper internships are available with a variety of animals: Large animals, Domestics, Small animals, Birds, Reptiles, Hoof Stock, Amphibians, Marine Animals, and Nutrition. Specific opportunities vary term to term. Please check back often for available internships.

Other college experiential learning opportunities are available in a variety of non-animal areas including: Marketing and Special Events, Education, Human Resources, Public Relations, Development, Horticulture, Environmental, and Conservation Biology. Specific opportunities vary term to term. Please check back often for available internships.

Please note: Internships and work-study opportunities may not be offered in all areas every term.

C.E.L.O. program applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Completion of one (1) year of college or equivalent (approximately 24 credit hours)
  • Overall grade point average of 2.5 (out of 4.0)
  • Be willing to commit to a 12 week term (generally 5 days/week, 40 hours per week)
  • Have a sincere interest in the particular field where the intern desires placement.
  • Some positions require more experience. Please read each position description below to determine whether or not you are qualified.
  • Completed applications must be received by 5pm (CST) on the deadlines listed below. Please note, internships and work-study opportunities may not be offered in all areas every year. Term dates may be somewhat flexible based on student’s academic calendar.If an interview is desired to further consider the applicant for an internship opportunity, the applicant will be notified by e-mail. Selected interns must clear a full background check in order to begin. Offers are subject to this clearance. Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more details!

2015 C.E.L.O. Term & Deadline Schedule
  Positions Posted Application Deadline Interview Window* Notification Date
Winter Term (January-April) September 28, 2014 October 25, 2014 November 15-30, 2014 December 14, 2014
Summer Term (May-August) January 8, 2015 February 21, 2015 March 7-28, 2015 April 14, 2015
Fall Term (September-December) June 27, 2015 July 28, 2015 August 15-Sept. 5, 2015 Sept. 19, 2015
All dates are subject to change. Please check back often for updated opportunities.  *Interview dates may be somewhat flexible based on candidates' needs.


C.E.L.O. Opportunities Available in Winter 2015

Opportunity (Click on title for complete job description and requirements) Unpaid Paid
Keeper Internships
Australia, Animal Ambassador, Hamill Family Play Zoo,  Fragile KingdomHabitat Africa-Kopje, Habitat Africa-Forest, Hoofstock, Marine Aquatics/Herpetology
Please click links for keeper  and animal area descriptions. Then, indicate which animal areas are of interest to you in your online application.
Marine Mammal Care Intern X  
Education-Library Intern X  
Director's Office Intern X  
Volunteer Engagement Intern  X  
Conservation Science Animal Behavior Research Intern   X  



Tetanus Vaccine Required
For the welfare of employees and animals, proof of a current tetanus vaccination is required for all internships prior to the start of the internship assignment. In some animal areas, additional inoculations/tests may be required (measles, vaccine, TB test, etc.). All tests/vaccinations are at the applicant’s expense.

Application Details

Students who want to be considered for an internship or participation in the work-study program must complete:

  • C.E.L.O. online application (Please do not complete the online application until positions have been posted for your desired term as opportunities vary throughout the year.) 
  • Cover letter responding to C.E. L.O. prompts (see below).
  • Current resume detailing education and other qualifications, including work history and any other relevant experience such as military or volunteer service.
  • Two (2) professional letters of recommendation that include a candid assessment of the candidate’s aptitude, qualifications, background, and suitability for the program. References should include the  length and capacity in which the individual has known the applicant as well as contact information should more information be needed. (Letters may be sent separately by references.)
  • An unofficial or official copy of the applicant’s most recent transcripts for all the colleges or universities attended. Official copies will be required if you are offered a position.
  • If you feel you would need any sort of accommodations to fulfill this internship successfully, please complete an ADA Accommodations form and return it to

C.E.L.O. Cover Letter
To be considered for an internship or work-study with C.E. L.O. program, you must submit a cover letter including responses to the following prompts:

  • What attracts you to Brookfield Zoo as a workplace?
  • What skills do you hope to gain from an experiential learning opportunity that will help you achieve your future career goals?
  • The Chicago Zoological Society is a worldwide leader in conservation. What personal life experiences have caused you to develop an appreciation for animals, nature, the environment and/or conservation?

Please submit applications via mail (address below), fax: 708-688-7609, or email (.pdf files are best):

Chicago Zoological Society – Brookfield Zoo
C.E.L.O. Program
3300 Golf Road

Brookfield, IL 60513

  • Failure to provide any of the required application materials will disqualify you from consideration.

  • Please do not include any more items than those requested in your application packet. Please do not include photographs. Documents and letters of recommendation beyond those required will not be included for consideration by managers.
  • If you have any questions that were not answered here, visit our frequently asked questions page.
Chicago Zoological Society is an EEO/Affirmative Action Employer - M/F/V/D
Please be aware that the Chicago Zoological Society, which operates Brookfield Zoo, is committed to equal employment opportunity and takes affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified minorities, females, individuals with disabilities, and veterans.
To help us maintain our commitment to affirmative action, we ask that you please answer the Voluntary Self-Disclosure questions found on our online application. The information will be used solely for recordkeeping and reporting purposes.  Submission of this information is purely voluntary and choosing not to disclose this information will not subject you to any adverse treatment. The form will be kept separate from your application for employment.  We appreciate your willingness to assist us.