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Externships Available in Washington (State)

Externship Opportunities - Washington



Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium



5400 N. Pearl Street









United States


Zip Code



Primary Contact

Cathleen McConnell


Position (of Contact)

Internship Program Coordinator





Email Address




Clinical Experience (to be gained during program)

PDZA is the only combined zoo and aquarium in the Pacific Northwest. The 29-acre zoological park was established in 1905, and attracts about 700,000 visitors a year. It is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA), which ensure rigorously high standards of animal welfare, veterinary care, conservation, education and more. The zoo presently houses >375 species of animals and >12,000 individual specimens ranging from marine mammals to invertebrates. The Zoo sits within 700-acre Point Defiance Park, offering spectacular views of Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. PDZA is operated by Metro Parks Tacoma, the oldest independent park district in Washington. For more information, visit PDZA’s veterinary team includes a head veterinarian, associate veterinarian, and an intern veterinarian as well as two veterinary technicians and a hospital manager. Students can expect to obtain practical experience with zoo and aquatic species with regard to anesthesia, radiography, dentistry, practical examination, medical record entry, necropsy, behavior/training, and lab work evaluation.




Allied Institution



(1) Introduction to basic husbandry and nutrition of zoo animals (2) Aid with sample collection and laboratory processing (3) Exposure to a variety of immobilization techniques (including dart systems) (4) Opportunities to assist with anesthesia/surgical procedures and exotic animal treatments (5) Introduction to diagnostic radiographic techniques (6) Instruction in medical record data entry on ZIMS (7) Opportunities to assist with hospital and medical equipment maintenance in a modern 8,000 square foot health care facility (8) Involvement with necropsy procedures (when applicable) (9) Observation of animal training techniques (10) Half-day rotation with keeper staff in an animal area of choice (pending area approval)



Minimum 4 weeks


Application Requests

If you would like to apply for this externship, you will need to submit the application through NeoGov on Metro Parks Tacoma website ( along with a concise resume, letter of intent (with availability/preferred season included), and three letters of recommendation. This position is competitive and not all applicants will be accepted.


If applications are not taken continuously, at what date will this position next be available?

Students will only be accepted for externships that occur during the months of July-June of the next year.


Application Deadline

Due in December of each year for the next year's cycle


Class Standing

Only students who will be completing their final year of veterinary education (at the time of the rotation) from an accredited veterinary college will be considered.






Students must make their own housing arrangements while in Tacoma.



Students must provide their own transportation.



All students are considered unpaid volunteers, and as such, the zoo does not provide medical coverage for on the job injuries or incidents.



Students are responsible for all of their own expenses.


TB Tests/Vaccinations

All students accepted for this position must provide proof of a negative TB test (administered within the last year) and proof of tetanus vaccination within the previous 5 years.


Misc. Information

Placement dates may be flexible depending upon the needs of the student and the PDZA Health Care staff. Must fulfill college credit requirements. Students can expect to hear about their application by the end of January.


Last Date Edited





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