Animal management

What can I expect?

Long days!!  The working day typically starts at 6.30am and finishes around 12 hours later with breaks for breakfast and lunch.  Interns are expected to work five days per week.

The ALERT Animal Management Program focuses on the day to day welfare, care and management of the lions in stage one of the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program.  Throughout their stay interns will be shadowing and assisting the projects’ Lions Managers in all aspects of their work.

What will I be doing?

You will be involved in all aspects of looking after the lions in our care that could include...

Feeding - Ensuring the lions are fed the correct weight of meat on their feed days. This involves weighing the meat and confirming that each lion gets the correct amount. On days where there is a delivery of food, interns will be asked to over-see the weighing-in of the meat and log details into the Meat Preparation book. Interns should be prepared for the fact that live feed such as cow and donkey are often brought in for humane slaughter and will be fed to the lions. For bigger groups of lions these animals feeds may be given as a whole carcass.

Behavioural Enrichment - Providing the lions with opportunities that  promote species specific behaviours to assist their development.  This may include creating toys from natural materials to encourage stalking and chasing.

Enclosure Cleaning - Cleaning is carried out daily. Faeces and leftover bones are collected and disposed of. All water baths are emptied, scrubbed and re-filled to allow the lions access to fresh water.

Enclosure Maintenance - The condition of lion enclosures is monitored constantly and interns are asked to carry out work, including essential boundary repairs, to the highest standards. 

De-Ticking and De-Worming - This is managed on a regular basis. Since ticks attach themselves to any part of the lion and can easily spread disease, they need to be kept under control. It is for the same reason the lions are also de-wormed. 

Computer Work - A lot of intern work is also computer based. You will be asked to regularly update the lion’s profiles and descriptions. This will include taking and attaching up to date pictures of each lion, documenting health issues such as when they were de-wormed, de-ticked and vaccinated or any injuries they may have sustained along with pictures of such injuries. Stage status, hunting, mating and breeding data will also need to be updated regularly on each profile.

Veterinary Treatment – Should one of the lions become injured or sick, interns will assist the Lions Manager in treating the injury if it is minor enough and not involve the need for a Veterinary consult.  If a vet is called in to assist, you may have the opportunity to help them during any treatment. 

At Antelope Park interns will also be involved in caring for the Park’s resident elephants, horses, donkeys and mules.

What are we looking for?

When choosing an Animal Management intern we are ideally looking for a post-graduate who has studied animal care, behaviour, management, etc, although we are able to accept sufficiently motivated current students in selected project locations. 

To be considered for an internship, you must clearly have an interest in animals/wildlife and their conservation.  Experience is important as well, whether it be caring for your own pets, or working / volunteering at a veterinary practice, zoo or animal sanctuary (not necessarily with big cats).

On a personal level, initiative and a ‘go to’ attitude are a must! Our Lions Managers have busy schedules and are looking for interns who are reliable and can do a good job under minimum supervision. You will need to be able to think on your feet and learn to expect the unexpected. 

Click on these links for more information on the locations currently available:

Gweru (Antelope Park), Zimbabwe

For intern fees and how to apply click here

Intern Testimonials

Emma Townson worked at our Livingstone project with Lion’s Manager, Cara Watts.  A vet nurse by trade, Emma was based at Lion Encounter for two months.

As a veterinary nurse I felt my experience treating many kinds of animals could be helpful to the project as well as giving me some valuable experience in other areas of animal welfare.
Interning has given me a greater understanding of what is involved on a day-to-day basis in running the project. So much work goes on behind the scenes, and it’s been an eye-opener to work with Cara and see what happens “backstage”. Cara’s been fantastic in showing me the ropes and she does a brilliant job.
I’ve really enjoyed the responsibility I’ve been given; whether that’s been monitoring meat stocks, daily health checks on the lions or helping out with the research and looking for changes in behaviour. 
For anyone considering an internship with ALERT, my advice would be DO IT! For me, it has been an incredible experience, but for anyone thinking of an animal management placement make sure you have a strong stomach; getting so hands-on with the lion’s food can be a little nauseating. 
The staff are great and made me feel so welcome – as an intern you really are part of the team.”
Emily Oppenheim was also at Livingstone, and had this to say about her experience;
"This project is truly a gift and there is nothing else like it in the world.  I have gained not only knowledge but sincere appreciation for wild and vulnerable animals."
Torie Hilley joined the program at our Gweru program at Antelope Park;

"I interned with ALERT because of the hands on experience I was promised.  The program was NOT a disappointment and I have gained the BEST experience anyone could ask for that a book or classroom could never achieve. Trying to describe what I did there is difficult to express in words.  It was fantastic, memorable, challenging and emotional; it tested my limits.  I learned to adapt and act in a second and acquired a true feel of what this kind of career would be like in a conservation program.   The super nice and caring staff ensure that you are kept busy, but make sure you are enjoying your time. I gained knowledge in managing people and lion welfare and behavior.  I thank you with the utmost gratitude."

Emily Seidel also joined the program in Gweru;
"Arriving at Antelope Park was quite daunting at first, especially it being my first time in Africa, but the staff and other interns made me feel at ease and welcomed my seemingly never-ending questions. Being a hands-on learner and being flexible greatly helped in feeling my way through the beginning of my internship. Once I got into the swing of things, I came to appreciate even the grossest activities! There is nothing quite like seeing a bachelor pride of seven big lions charge down their enclosure for a feed, or collecting data while the walking cubs chase each other around the African bush. The Intern Program had a lot responsibility associated with it, but I know I learned much more from my internship than I would have if I only volunteered with ALERT.  I sympathized so much with ALERT's approach to lion conservation that I'm interning for a second time, this time at the Livingstone project in Zambia"
  Torie Hilley
Emily Seidel intern at Antelope Park