Animal Care Internship at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Animal Care Internship at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Jul 16
Amanda Lehner, Senior in Animal Sciences

I arrived at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute 45 days ago, but it feels like yesterday. I wasn’t sure what to expect and frankly, neither did anybody else here because I am the first intern of my kind. I am considered a Red Panda Animal Care and Research Intern, so I perform all aspects of daily animal care and husbandry with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s red panda population. The research side of my internship includes monitoring video footage of the red panda nest box cameras, categorizing and organizing video, and learning the basics of endocrine analysis and behavioral observation of red pandas. The best part about it is that I did not learn about all of this until I arrived here on June 1, 2013.

I assumed that because my internship title included red pandas, I would only be working with the red pandas. However, this wasn’t the case. I would also be assisting keepers with clouded leopards, maned wolves, and even domestic cats! I had always heard people that work with animals say that no day was the ever the same and so far, all of my forty-five days have been different from one another. Each day has proven to be physically, as well as intellectually, challenging. During the first half of each day, I prepare animal diets and medications, cut fresh bamboo, thoroughly clean the enclosures, feed the animals, and transport any animals to and from the Vet Hospital on site if necessary. For the second half of my day, I organize and label a whole lot of red panda video footage for three to four hours. I have been doing this for the past 45 days and I am still not even close to being half-way done. It is a very time consuming task, but it is a part of research that everybody has to learn to deal with at some point.

The summer has gone by so fast already and I only have 36 more days left here. After looking back at everything, I have come very far and I am proud of myself for continuing to learn and thrive in all situations that come my way. I am not always perfect, but I always do my best. This way of life has allowed me to excel in a field where many are often overlooked and considered to be a number, rather than a name. After I complete my internship in 36 days, I hope that I will leave here with more knowledge and understanding about the animals and myself.


Amanda Lehner