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Avian Veterinary Conservation Research Internship: Attwater’s Prairie Chickens
Houston Zoo Inc.

1513 Cambridge St.




Zip Code

Primary Contact
Dr. Joe Flanagan

Position (of Contact)
Staff Veterinarian


Email Address


Clinical Experience (to be gained during program)
Avian Veterinary Conservation Research Internship: Attwater’s Prairie Chickens (for 1st - 2nd year veterinary students)


Allied Institution

The Houston Zoo is seeking a summer Veterinary Student Intern for our Attwater's Prairie Chicken Conservation Program. This is an opportunity to work with a unique endangered species recovery program managed by our avian and veterinary teams (more information about the survival of this species can be found here: The successful candidate will participate in the husbandry and medical care of captive Attwater’s Prairie Chickens (APC) at the Houston Zoo and work with zoo veterinarians and conservation biologists to design, implement, and complete a research project relating to the APC program. The intern will tour husbandry and veterinary facilities (including NASA site), become familiarized with protocols, and participate in routine care. AGENDA • Participate in routine husbandry of APC chicks including feeding, cleaning, and record keeping to get baseline knowledge of husbandry and APC biology • Perform treatments for APC chicks with veterinary supervision • Pathology, including gross necropsy, sample collection, report writing, and histopathology review • Participate in continuing education opportunities including zoo journal club sessions, mentor topics, and possible local veterinary CE • Possible opportunities for shadowing the veterinarians on clinical zoo rounds. • Once familiarized with program, selection of a research project of interest, design and implementation of project Topics expected to be covered (with the potential for further research) include: • Incubation -Incubation workshop reading materials -Egg collection, handling, candling, record keeping, egg management • Banding, measurements • Neonatology -Angular limb deformities: prevention, treatment, care -Failure to thrive -Nutrition and hydration • Fluid therapy • Nutritional support • Antimicrobials -Selection, dosage, administration • Diagnostics: sampling, limitations • Infectious diseases • Parasitic disease • Preventive medicine • Pre-release screening • Transport • Release, post-release monitoring The intern project will be developed, based on discussion with the student, within the first 10 days. It may include a prospective investigation of a current medical issue, or could be retrospective, looking at data accumulated over our history with prairie chickens. This will be a learning experience, as well as an opportunity for the student to contribute to the scientific knowledge of the species through publication of the findings. The research will be presented to zoo staff at the completion of the internship. A motivated intern with a solid project has the potential to turn this research into a peer-reviewed publication SAMPLE SCHEDULE (to be refined pending intern availability): 7:00 am and 4:00 pm M-F: AM and PM treatments with Veterinary supervision. 9:30 am - 12:00pm: Self-study reading materials according to list above (generally arranged in progressive order); prepare for journal club 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm: Investigate topic of interest (literature search, records review) related to research project Hours may vary throughout the internship depending on the nature of the research project. RESEARCH TIMELINE First full week: Background reading on prairie chickens and challenges of husbandry and veterinary care 2nd full week: Select a topic and develop a research plan 3rd through second to last week: gather data Last 3 weeks: analyze data, write up findings, prepare for publication Last week: Prepare and present findings for staff (15-20 minute talk) Last day: “house-keeping” activities prior to leaving zoo

10-12 weeks (May-August)

Application Requests
To apply, visit and complete an application for the Vet Student Internship. For additional information, contact Dr. Joe Flanagan, Senior Veterinarian at the Houston Zoo: Application questions can be directed to

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

Application Deadline
Dec 1-Mar 1

Class Standing

1st and 2nd year students





$55 on-boarding fee

TB Tests/Vaccinations
Negative TB test within a year of participation

Does program accept International applicants?

Misc. Information
REQUIREMENTS • Applicants should have completed one to two years of veterinary education and have an interest in non-domestic or zoo animal medicine and conservation • Pay a one-time $55 fee to offset the cost of your on-boarding and uniform if accepted into the internship program (this cost may be higher for international applicants) • A negative TB test must be provided and valid for the entire internship • Minimum of 200 hours during summer months (hour breakdown per week can be discussed) • Weekly meetings with Senior Veterinarian Dr. Joe Flanagan to go over progress, trouble shoot, re-direct, etc. • Mid-term and final evaluations • Research project and presentation to staff with potential for peer-reviewed publication

Last Date Edited

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