Intern Program

Big Cat Rescue is home to about 50+ big cats and is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. During the course of the internship, the intern will gain valuable knowledge and working experience.

We offer two ways to intern.  Internships are a minimum of 12 weeks and can progress up to 2 years.  Below is our Animal Care Intern Program and this is the link to our Outreach Intern Program.


The Big Cat Rescue intern program consists of two distinct departments, Keepers and Partners, with diverse skill levels and responsibilities. These levels are designed to enhance intern strengths and meet the varied needs of the sanctuary. Unless otherwise specified, interns will work in both departments. Interns begin in Partner training to learn tour guiding and guest relations, to better familiarize themselves with the mission of the sanctuary and the daily operations, and then advance into the Keeper training to learn animal husbandry. Much of the initial training consists of the basic knowledge needed to be a valued intern. As a trainee advances through the program the he or she will learn specific skills pertaining to a particular department. Big Cat Rescue can only accommodate a limited number of interns at any given time. Applications for internships are accepted year round. It is recommended that you apply no later than three months prior to your desired start date, but applications will be accepted anytime. We accept interns from all over the world and do not have set start dates. Start dates will be determined by the availability of the applicant and the needs of the sanctuary.


The following criteria must be met to maintain Big Cat Rescue’s safety standards; 18 years old and possess a valid driver’s license or photo I.D., capable of walking and standing for extended periods of time, capable of lifting and carrying at least 50 lbs., possess vision and hearing at adequate levels, good health and endurance for working outdoors in all types of weather, fluent in English both written and verbal, complete disclosure of any prescription drugs, allergies and physical limitations, and able to financially support themselves for the duration of the internship. Interns must obtain a tetanus vaccination, at their own expense, that will be good for the duration of the internship, prior to participating in the internship program and must submit proof of vaccination. Interns that become pregnant during their internship must disclose this information to the Volunteer Committee immediately. They will be assigned duties within the Partner department and must refrain from having contact with the animal areas and raw meat as well as from heavy lifting or strenuous activities.


A $50 fee is required to be paid upon confirmation of the interview session. This non-refundable fee is for the cost of a criminal background check. A deposit of $300 must be submitted upon acceptance into the program. This deposit holds the internship slot and insures against failure to complete the requirements of the internship or damages to the radio, housings, or Big Cat Rescue property. Upon successful completion of the program, passing inspection of radio and housings, and not having damaged Big Cat Rescue property the intern will receive the deposit back. Fees and deposits are collected via PayPal. The $300 deposit will not be returned to you if you; cancel your internship before it has started, do not show up on your scheduled start date, fail to successfully complete the internship, do not pass your housing inspections, do not return the radio in good working order, damage Big Cat Rescue property, leave the internship early, or are terminated from the internship due to breach of the Intern Orientation Contract.


Intern Housing Tiger Tail Lodge at Big Cat Rescue

Big Cat Rescue provides free intern housing for up to 15 interns. All interns have their own private bedrooms, access to local phone lines, wireless internet, access to a shared computer and shared bathroom, kitchen and T.V. areas. Intern housing is stocked with linens, towels, pots, pans, dishes, etc., cleaning supplies, laundry soap and dryer sheets.

Intern housings are smoke, alcohol, and drug free environments. The consumption of alcohol is restricted and the use of illegal drugs is strictly prohibited throughout the duration of the internship. Smoking areas are provided outside of the housings and at designated areas of the sanctuary.

Staff may reside in Intern Housings. Housings are for staff and interns only; guests (including volunteers) are not permitted on the property or within the housings. If an intern is receiving a ride from another volunteer or a guest, that volunteer or guest must wait outside the entrance gate for the intern.  They may not drive onto BCR property. Interns are permitted to live off-site in their own accommodations at their own expense. Personal pets are not permitted in intern housings. Rooms may be reassigned during the internship. See Intern Housing at Big Cat Rescue.


All interns are responsible for the cost of their own transportation, and long distance phone calls. Interns are allowed one vehicle for personal transportation and must be parked in approved intern parking area. Interns with vehicles must assist interns without transportation with grocery store trips and staff with picking up and dropping off interns at the airport. Interns that do not have transportation are encouraged to give a reasonable amount of money to the driver for fuel.


Each intern will be reimbursed for up to $50 of food costs each week (if receipts are submitted to the Intern Manager in a timely manner). A small stipend is available to help defray the cost of living for interns who are granted the Level 2-4 Internships. Upon acceptance into the Level 2 internships, there may be a two week probationary period during which time a stipend is not offered. Following the probationary period, performance will be assessed by the Operations Manager.


Interns must complete 600 hours of service during the 12 week internship. This is equivalent to working 50+ hours per week. The day typically begins between 7:30 – 8:00 AM and ends between 7:30 – 8:00 PM. There will be morning briefings just before the days’ work begins. If there is not a meeting there will be a posted message that must be read before heading out for the days’ work. Interns receive a minimum of one full day off per week. Interns are required to work on Holidays. However, this is a guideline only and interns may be required to work more or less hours as needed by the sanctuary. Lunch break times may vary according to the days’ activities. Scheduling is handled by the Operations Manager and requests for specific days off or switching days should be submitted in writing well in advance to the requested dates to ensure that scheduling can be worked out. The Operations Manager will evaluate these requests on a case-by-case basis. Tardiness or unscheduled absences will not be tolerated. Part time jobs or classes are not permitted for the duration of the internship.

See photos of our hard working Interns in action.


All intern levels participate in Big Cat Rescue’s Foster Kitten Program. Foster kittens are accepted from Humane Society of Tampa or similar organizations. These kittens are cared for by interns until they reach 2 pounds at which point they are returned to the organization who then spays, neuters, and adopts them out. Kittens or cats are not accepted from individuals into the BCR Foster Program. The reason the program is set up this way is because Big Cat Rescue has the resources to provide care for a limited time to foster kittens, but does not have the resources to then find homes for these fosters.


Our animals are in natural habitats, with limited human contact, thus our routine veterinary care consists of monthly parasite preventatives and vaccinations. Interns that are Certified in Small Cat Feeding may have the opportunity to assist with the preparation of diets containing monthly and quarterly de-wormer. Flea prevention treatments, vaccinations, and all other non-routine veterinary care procedures are performed by the veterinarian and the staff. Opportunities to observe non-routine veterinary procedures are infrequent are not guaranteed. Observation opportunities are decided on a case by case basis and decisions are based on the following criteria; risk and safety of humans and animals, space available at the site of the procedure, intern’s behavior and work ethic, and the personality of the animal. Interns pursuing a career in the veterinary field may receive priority but this is not guaranteed.


Level 1 Keeper Trainee: A Level 1 Intern may become a Keeper Trainee only after performing Partner Trainee duties for an initial period of time to be determined by the Operations Manager. Keeper Trainees are considered a probationary level. An intern serving at this level will work under the direct supervision of a ranking intern or volunteer. Keeper Trainee duties may include feeding and care of live prey rats, sorting produce, cleaning small cat enclosures (Geoffrey Cats to Siberian Lynx), assisting animal feeders, guest sign in, serving as a tour back up, guiding day tours and kid’s tours, gift shop assistant, data entry, housekeeping, landscaping, domestic cat care, daily chores, perimeter checks, and miscellaneous projects.

Level 1 Keeper Trainee Classes and Certifications (Timeline only a guideline, may vary):Big Cat Rescue Intern Cleaning Small Cats

Orientation: Orientation covering all internship details, signing of release forms and contract, grounds and housing tour.

Tour Back Up, Gate Operation, and Guest Relations: Teaches the safety procedures and guidelines for assisting with guided tours of the sanctuary, proper operation of the gates, and guest sign in procedures.

Human First Aid: Protocol and techniques for minor wounds and health conditions.

Animal Emergency: Standard operating procedures for an injured animal or animal escape.

Animal Observation: Identify and document signs of an ailing animal.

Tour Guide and Certification: Guidelines for leading day tours of the sanctuary to spread the mission of the sanctuary and to educate the public about the cats both in captivity and in the wild. Guidelines for leading kids tours of the sanctuary to educate families about the big cats. Information is given at a child’s level of understanding.

Small Cat Cleaning: Protocol and techniques for cleaning the small cat and other small animal enclosures.

Events: Represent and promote Big Cat Rescue and its mission offsite.

After the completion of Week 4 and the successful completion of all of the Keeper Trainee Classes the Keeper Trainee will advance to Keeper level. The Intern will be required to complete all certifications for Kids Tour Guide, Tour Guide, and Small Cat Cleaning prior to the end of the internship.

Level 1 Keeper: Keeper duties may include Trainee duties, feeding small cats (Geoffrey Cats to Siberian Lynx), red level enrichment, red level operant, leading projects, and training and mentoring Trainees.

Level 1 Keeper Classes and Certifications:

Small Cat Feeding Class and Certification: Protocol and techniques for feeding the small cats; lynx and smaller. Certification in only one of the 3 feeding sections.

Enrichment Class and Red Level Certification: Create and hand out enrichment items to the small cats; lynx and smaller and other small animals.

Operant Training Class and Red Level Certification: Reward desired behaviors of the small cats and other small animals using clicker training.

See what this intern says about the program:  Intern Testimonial


Level 2 Keeper: Level 2 Internships are reserved for returning interns who showed exceptional skill and ability as a Level 1 Intern. Acceptance into this program is contingent upon the unanimous agreement of our selection committee. Level 2 Keeper Intern duties may include Level 1 duties, cougar cleaning, yellow level enrichment, guiding feeding tours, leading animal husbandry duties and projects, and ensuring maintenance of intern housing.

Level 2 Keeper Classes and Certifications:

Cougar Cleaning: Protocol and techniques for cleaning the cougar enclosures.

Feeding Tour Guide: Guidelines for leading the speaking portion of the Feeding Tours

Yellow Level Enrichment Certification: Create and hand out enrichment items to the cougars


Level 3 Senior Keeper: Level 3 Internships are reserved for returning interns who showed outstanding skill and ability as a Level 2 intern. Acceptance into this program is contingent upon the unanimous agreement of our selection committee.

Level 3 Keeper Intern duties may include Level 1 and Level 2 duties, big cat cleaning, green level enrichment, and guiding keeper tours. A minimum of one night tour must be observed during the Level 3 Internship and documented on the Night Tour Guide Certification sheet.  Each household will be assigned one House Leader who is either a Level 3 or 4 Intern (Level 2 if none higher).  The House Leader will be responsible for; giving new interns the Kitten Nursing Class within their first week of interning, overseeing all of the foster kitten care in their house, serving as the main contact with the Foster Kitten Program Manager, and communicating housing needs and issues with the Operations Manager.

Level 3 Senior Keeper Classes and Certifications:Big Cat Rescue Intern Cleaning Cages

Big Cat Cleaning: Protocol and techniques for cleaning the lion, tiger and leopard enclosures.

Green Level Enrichment Certification: Create and hand out enrichment items to the big cats; lions, tigers, leopards.


Level 4 Senior Keeper: Level 4 Internships are reserved for returning interns who stood out as the best of the best and showed excellent skill and ability as a Level 3 intern. Acceptance into this program is contingent upon the unanimous agreement of our selection committee. Level 4 Keeper Intern duties may include Level 1, 2, and 3 duties, big cat feeding (locked out big cats only), and assisting with meds administration.

Level 4 Senior Keeper Classes and Certifications:

Big Cat Feeding and Certification (locked out big cats only): Protocol and techniques for feeding the big cats; lions and tigers that are locked out of their feeding areas. Certification is for locked out big cats only.

Meds Administration: Learning protocols for preparing and handing out daily medications to the animals. Assisting with preparation of medications and shadowing a senior or master keeper who gives medications to the animals.


Level 5 Senior Keeper: Level 5 Internships are reserved for returning interns who stood out as the best of the best and showed excellent skill and ability as a Level 4 intern. Acceptance into this program is contingent upon the unanimous agreement of our selection committee. Level 5 Keeper Intern duties may include Level 1, 2, 3, & 4 duties, administering medications (minimum of 4 times per month), coordinating partner and keeper volunteers and interns (minimum 2 days per week – 1 keeper day, 1 partner day), special project assignment, hospitalized animal care (when available), participation in the wild bobcat rehabilitation program (when available), planning and execution of catching a small cat, and presentation lecture on choice of topic.

The duration of the Level 5 Internship is 6 months which includes 7 vacation days or 1 year which includes 14 vacation days. The work schedule for Level 5 Interns is 5 days a week serving a minimum of 48 hours per week (50+ hours average).  A grant of up to $1,500 for airfare will be awarded to each intern that is accepted as a Level 5 Intern to cover the cost of transportation to return for the internship.

Level 5 Senior Keeper Classes and Certifications:

Meds Administration Certification

Coordinator Training and Certification

Hospitalized Animal Care and Certification

Bobcat Rehabilitation Care and Certification


An intern may apply for advancement to the next level internship or to be accepted into the volunteer program by submitting an application for promotion via email to the Volunteer Committee. Applications can be found on the site. The intern should apply for advancement prior to the end of the current internship only after having completed all of the required classes of that internship level. Certifications do not have to be completed prior to applying for promotion, but are required to be completed prior to the end of the current internship.

The Volunteer Committee will consult with the appropriate Volunteer Coordinators and Operations Manager to receive feedback on the applicants overall performance within the program. If the Volunteer Coordinator or Operations Manager are not confident in the applicant’s current abilities the Volunteer Committee will take this into advisement and may speak with and encourage the applicant to focus on sharpening these specific skills in question and then reapply for promotion after a designated period of time established by the Volunteer Committee. The Volunteer Coordinator and Operations Manager will also be advised to monitor the applicant’s improvements over the designated period of time after which the Volunteer Committee, the Volunteer Coordinator and Operations Manager will reevaluate the application for promotion.

If 3 months or less transpires between the end of the current internship and the beginning of the next internship, the intern will move forward with the advanced training upon their return. Depending on circumstances it may be required for the intern to spend a brief amount time refreshing themselves with the duties of previous internship before advancing.

No more than a maximum of 6 months may transpire between the end of the current internship and the beginning of the next internship. If 3-6 months transpires between internships, the intern will be required to; complete all of the training classes of the previous internship(s) and half of the required certifications for each class as well as spend the first 4 weeks of the internship performing the previous internship(s) duties. At week 5 the intern will then be able to begin advance in their training.


Animal Contact: Big Cat Rescue is a strict no contact facility. At no time, under any circumstances, will any part of your person come into direct contact with any animal at Big Cat Rescue. Nor shall you use any object to touch an animal such as a stick or pole etc. (There is a back scratcher program that is available to Senior and Master Keepers, this program is strictly monitored and is for the purpose to assist animals with removing matted fur.)

Animal Care: No animal abuse of any kind will be tolerated, including teasing, and is grounds for immediate dismissal. No food or toys shall be offered to any animal without approval from the Coordinator, Operations Manager, CEO or President. No animal shall ever be removed from its cage or enclosure without the express consent of the CEO or President. Notification of animal issues including veterinary procedures, moving animals and quarantined animals, etc will be posted on the Important Updates.

Security of Animal Information Files: Any printed or digital information about the cats and their health must always be readily available to our staff, vets, and appropriate volunteers. Such information shall not be moved, copied, altered, shared, deleted, or taken off of the property without express permission from the CEO or President.

Make a Difference as a Big Cat Rescue Intern

General Safety: No part of your person shall ever pass through the bars of any enclosure at any time. No person shall run or horseplay on the property. An Emergency Contact, medications, allergies, and medical conditions are listed for each volunteer and intern in their digital Volgistics record which all coordinators have access to. Any person feeling under the weather should contact their coordinator to reschedule their volunteer time. Smoking is permitted in the designated “smoking areas” only. Absolutely no alcohol or drugs are allowed on the property at any time. No person shall enter the premises for eight hours after having consumed any alcoholic beverages or narcotics. Any person believed to be impaired due to alcohol or drugs will be removed from the property.

Entering Enclosures: No person shall enter any enclosure without direct permission from the Volunteer Coordinator, Operations Manager, President or CEO. Prior to entering any enclosure the animal will be safely locked out of the section of the enclosure to be entered. The Operations Manager can “lock out” cats smaller than lynx. The President or CEO must be present to “lock out” cats that are lynx and larger. When an animal is “locked out” it will be moved to another section of its enclosure. The separating guillotine door will be shut, a pole placed over the frame of the guillotine door to prevent its opening, a clip gate installed over the guillotine door and then a pad lock placed on the entrance door for the section housing the animal. When entering any enclosure, the safety door must be closed shut with a minimum of 2 snaps prior to opening the entrance door to the side of the enclosure the animal is locked out of. This entrance door must then also be closed shut with a minimum of 2 snaps. At no time should either door be left open, even if the enclosure is not inhabited by an animal.

Modifying Enclosures: No person shall make modifications to any enclosure without direct instruction from the Volunteer Coordinator, Operations Manager, President or CEO.

Drills: Every month the Volunteer Committee will post an electronic drill in the Volunteer Newsletter. The drill will consist of a scenario such as an injured guest or animal emergency, and course of action options for the intern to select or fill in. Each intern must read the monthly Volunteer Newsletter and mark that they have read it as well as complete the electronic drill. The Volunteer Committee will review the results of the drill and will council any intern that may have answered insufficiently or incorrectly.

First Aid Kits: There are fully stocked be first aid kits in the; Gift Shop, Volunteer Sign In, Food Prep, Cooling Station, Main Office, E-Center, and Party House. All supplies for the First Aid Kits are to be purchased by Big Cat Rescue. Volunteers and interns are not permitted to donate First Aid Supplies nor store their personal medications in the First Aid Kits.

Management: The interns and volunteers on property will be directly coordinated by either a Volunteer Coordinator or an Operations Manager. Volunteer Coordinators are staff or volunteers who report to the Operations Manager. The Operations Manager is a staff member who oversees the daily operations of the sanctuary and is the final authority on site operating under the CEO and President. There will always be at a minimum one staff Operations Manager on site each day during the hours that the public and volunteers are on the premises. This Operations Manager will have access to and will be trained in the use of meds, darts, guns, medical, and capture equipment. Volunteer Coordinators coordinating the keeper department must be at least a Green Level Senior Keeper. Volunteer Coordinators coordinating the partner department must be at least a Yellow Level Partner. Operations Managers may be any level deemed appropriate by the CEO and President and will be fully trained in every aspect that the job requires. All coordinators can be reached at one email address:

Volunteer Committee: The primary goal of the Volunteer Committee is to develop and maintain a successful volunteer force to carry out the mission of Big Cat Rescue. Volunteer Committee duties may include; maintaining files on each current volunteer and intern, writing standard operating procedures & volunteer program and class revisions, running monthly hour reports and following up with volunteers regarding their status, promotion applications, discussing issues concerning the volunteers, disciplinary actions, promotions and rewards within the volunteer program, frequently checking and responding to emails to, hosting quarterly Volunteer Appreciation Parties, keeping in touch with volunteers, recognizing birthdays, following up if a leave of absence is taken, and fostering relationships between volunteers, attending off-site classes or seminars to further improve operations, and other responsibilities as assigned by the CEO.

Suggestions, ideas, questions, special requests and even grievances should be submitted to the Volunteer Committee via email to All discussions and decisions by and of the Volunteer Committee will be based on the Code of Honor. There is also an anonymous suggestion box located in the Gift Shop that is checked only by the CEO. Big Cat Rescue has an extensive website resource dedicated towards keeping the volunteers, interns, and staff informed of all policies, updates, contact information, and day to day operations of the sanctuary. Each volunteer is assigned a email address and is required to log in to the site regularly to check their emails as well as to read the Important Updates. Access to and participation in the site is for current, active volunteers only. You must choose a password to enter the site when your internship begins. Please choose a password that is meaningful to you, yet hard for someone to guess. Never share your password with others. Don’t forget to sign out! The easiest way for unauthorized persons to access all of Big Cat Rescue’s information is to gain unsupervised access to a computer in which one of our authorized volunteers is signed in to the site but isn’t there. Remember that your Big Cat Rescue e-mail address is like an electronic version of the volunteer logo on your volunteer shirt. When you use it, you are representing Big Cat Rescue, even if you do not mean to. Please make sure that every e-mail you send from this address represents Big Cat Rescue accurately and positively.

Social Networking and BCR Email address Policies: As an intern, posts or communications regarding animal issues using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube etc. should represent Big Cat Rescue’s mission accurately and positively. Photos and comments encouraging the physical interaction between humans and wild animals are discouraged as this is counter productive to the mission of Big Cat Rescue. Postings regarding the death of an animal at Big Cat Rescue should be made no earlier than one week following the loss. This is to ensure that your fellow Rescuers have the opportunity to read the news via the Important Updates instead of through social media. Emails that an intern sends from their Big Cat Rescue e-mail address should only reflect the mission of Big Cat Rescue and should be courteous and professional in content.

Classes: There are several training classes available for each level of the Intern Program. A list of class teachers can be found on the Class Completion List. A link to this page appears at the top of the Classes and Maps page. Under the heading Training and Docs in the left-hand side bar of the site. On this chart you will find every volunteer listed with the dates that they completed each class. At the bottom of the chart is also a tab titled Teachers. You may contact the teachers and request a specific class to be given. Only approved volunteers can teach classes. When a class is given the most recent version of the class should be printed directly from the site as classes are frequently updated. Two copies should be printed, one for the student and teacher to sign, date, and turn in and a second for the student to keep. The signed copy should be put in Jamie Veronica’s mailbox and any certification sheets should be put in the appropriate binders in the gift shop or in food prep. If there is a video version of the class the video must be played instead of reading the class aloud to the student, however, all class materials must still be filled out and turned in.

Hours: Interns are required to complete 600 hours of volunteer service during their 3 month internship. An account is set up for each intern to log his or her volunteer time via touch screen. These time clock stations are available in the gift shop, food prep, and the main offices. Interns must clock in using their assigned PIN number when they arrive at the sanctuary and must clock out when they leave the sanctuary. Volunteer Coordinators have access to a document that contains every intern’s PIN number should the intern forget their number. If an intern does not complete their 600 hours prior to the end of their internship and they have applied for a next level internship, he or she may be required to complete the 600 hours serving at the previous level’s duties before advancing.

Radios: At time of orientation or on first day a radio will be provided from BCR and must be carried on your person and turned on at all times while on the property. Each intern is responsible for keeping his or her radio in good working order. Batteries for the radios are provided by Big Cat Rescue and can be found in food prep. The radio must be returned to BCR upon completion of the internship. Radio transmissions should be kept to a minimum. Radio transmissions must be monitored by the Volunteer Coordinator or Operations Manager throughout the day for questions or emergencies.

Access to the Property: Interns will not operate the entry gates nor allow access to the property to anyone without proper training. If you do not recognize someone on the property as a volunteer or staff member, politely ask if you can help him or her. Explain that a volunteer or staff member must escort them at all times. Lead them to the Gift Shop and alert a coordinator, staff or committee member. No person shall enter the property without having completed a “Release & Hold Harmless Agreement.” If you have been entrusted with the gate code or keys, do not share these with anyone. Interns have the responsibility of making sure the gate is completely shut behind them as they enter and exit the property. Interns are provided with gate openers for the Lion’s Lair gate. These openers should be returned immediately to their designated space in the intern housing after each use. Easy Street is a privately owned road (not by Big Cat Rescue) and the people that live on the road are not affiliated with Big Cat Rescue. It is very important that we respect these people and drive no faster than 10 mph, as well as yield to on-coming traffic.

Intern Sign In: Before your intern shift begins, the Important Updates section on the site must be checked for important information such as rule changes, cat information, scheduled events, etc. Interns must also verbally check in and out with the coordinator in order to receive work assignments and so that the coordinator can keep track of the Intern’s progress. Hours must be logged on the computer time system daily. These time records will be monitored frequently to assure maintenance of intern responsibilities. The intern must initial next to daily chores as they are completed and check the posted schedule to receive information on cleaning and feeding routes, days off, and radio coverage duties.

Dress Code: Interns must wear a blue intern shirt upon entering and at all times while on the property. Each volunteer must wear a shirt the color designated for his or her level. Intern tank tops are available, but are only to be worn when working on a project (i.e., not when working with guests or guiding tours). Interns are visible to guests at any time while on the property and must look presentable. Interns that are giving tours or assisting with events must wear a clean intern shirt, so it is advised to bring an extra with you each day. Intern shirts are to be worn by interns only. They are not to be given to friends or family nor are they to be donated or sold to the general public. Closed-toe flat shoes must be worn at all times while on the property. Excess jewelry or heavily scented products should not be worn. Long pants are recommenced but shorts will be tolerated if worn at a presentable length. Any clothing including Intern shirts must be in presentable, unaltered condition. Intern sweatshirts are available. Any other sweatshirts, sweaters, or jackets must be worn underneath the intern shirt. Rain gear must be royal blue, the color of the intern shirts. Rain boots are encouraged during the rainy season and high socks are recommended to avoid chaffing when wearing rain boots.

Curfew: There is a 11 PM curfew for interns living in Intern Housing. Interns must be onsite and in their own assigned housing at this time. Interns living in Intern Housings are depended upon for nighttime and during closed hours for emergency situations and are not permitted to spend nights off site for the duration of the internship. Special exemptions to spending a night off property may be requested in advance and should be submitted to the Operations Manager in writing. Requests will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Cell Phones: Preferably, cell phones are to be left in the intern’s car, bag, or at home; however, if the intern is expecting an urgent call and must carry a cell phone, absolutely no calls will be answered while on the animal side of the barricades.

Personal Tours: All personal tours must be pre-approved by the coordinator in advance and be led by a certified tour guide. Volunteers may use their 10% discount for tour admission or give their guests tour passes that they have acquired through the reward program. Age restrictions apply to all guests on personal tours.

Grounds Maintenance: All interns are responsible for proper disposal of his or her trash as well as that of guests or other interns or volunteers. Recycle containers are provided for drink containers and cardboard, these containers are emptied into the dumpster in the guest parking lot marked recycling. When an intern completes a project, they must clean and put away all tools and excess materials and debris.

Monthly Volunteer Newsletter: A Volunteer Newsletter is published by the Volunteer Committee monthly and posted on the site. The newsletters are located under the heading Volunteer and sub-heading Newsletter on the left side bar of the site as well as posted via a button titled Monthly News on the home page of the site. The Volunteer Newsletter includes safety reminders, requests, announcements, financial updates, and other important information that every intern should be aware of. It is mandatory that all interns read these newsletters and check the box available at the bottom of the newsletter indicating that the newsletter has been read.

Volunteer Appreciation Parties: Volunteer Appreciation Parties are held quarterly. Invitations are posted in the Important Updates, monthly newsletter, as well as emailed to all volunteers. These parties are a social gathering of volunteers to enjoy food, drinks, guest speakers, special announcements, and to celebrate awards and promotions. Interns must RSVP (attending or not attending) to invites so that the Volunteer Committee can be sure to have enough food and drinks for everyone that attends. The attire for the quarterly Volunteer Appreciation Party is casual. Interns do not need to wear their volunteer shirt, unless instructed otherwise (annual group photos). Name badges will be provided for the attendees to wear that state the name, department and level so that new interns and volunteers can become acquainted with senior volunteers. It is highly encouraged to attend these gatherings to promote camaraderie among interns, volunteers, and staff.

Demotions: Any intern who does not meet the requirements or adhere to the policies for their level will be reduced to the level for which requirements are being met. The Volunteer Committee reserves the right to query interns, either in writing or in person, in order to establish whether or not requirements are, or are not, being met as well as policies being followed before making their determination.

Dismissals and Denials: The Volunteer Committee retains the right to permanently excuse anyone from the program or from the property if his or her conduct is deemed unbecoming for an intern representing Big Cat Rescue. The Volunteer Committee may also deny any individual from joining the Intern or Volunteer Program.


Rumor control is everyone’s responsibility. The spreading of inappropriate information to fellow volunteers or to the public will not be tolerated. This includes negatively questioning the judgments or actions of the senior volunteers, Volunteer Committee, staff, or veterinarian care to or in front of volunteers or the public. Any issues, concerns, or grievances with staff or volunteers at any level should be addressed, in writing, to the Volunteer Committee if the issue can not be first be resolved directly with the other party. Every effort will be made to achieve resolution. The party deemed at fault for the grievance will be required to apologize and make every attempt to resolve the conflict with the offended party.

While an intern is on the property or at an event or outreach, he or she is representing Big Cat Rescue. Please dress appropriately and refrain from using offensive language or behavior.

When you send an email from your Big Cat Rescue e-mail address you are representing us. Please be sure that you represent Big Cat Rescue’s philosophy accurately and positively. This also includes postings on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and My Space, etc. While we cannot control what current and former staff and volunteers post to their social networking sites, we would like to reiterate that we would appreciate your attention to the message that your photos and comments on these sites sends about Big Cat Rescue and especially about the animals that we represent.

If you drive your vehicle with Big Cat Rescue signs, bumper stickers, license plates, etc. you are an ambassador for the sanctuary and we ask that you drive and act in a responsible manner.

If you do not know the answer to a question asked of you, please do not make one up. Tell the person that you will find out for them and then do so. Bad information is worse than none at all and each intern’s words are a reflection of Big Cat Rescue’s mission.


I will focus on what works best to achieve our mission of caring for cats and ending the trade.

I will speak my truth to the best of my ability and listen attentively as others speak theirs, with an end goal of finding solutions that work for all.

I will support my fellow Rescuers early, often and unconditionally.

I will be truthful and responsible for my actions, accepting my role with grace and performing to the best of my ability.

I will deal with complete transparency and proactively work to resolve any conflicts directly with those involved. I will be sensitive to their feelings and in no way belittle or challenge them in front of others. If no resolution is achieved I will ask that all involved parties meet together with the person(s) who can settle the matter.

If it’s not my story, I won’t tell it.

I will celebrate the good my fellow Rescuers do and show respect by saying please, thank you and job well done.

It is my responsibility to uphold the code and address breaches of the code with my fellow Rescuers directly, privately and respectfully.

I will be mindful of my tone, body language and the fact that we are all on the same path, albeit at different stages, so I will be open and gentle when asked for clarification.

I will trust that my fellow Rescuers share my same good intentions and will give the benefit of the doubt or seek their input in a kind and courteous way.



The Intern Program Orientation Contract applies to all Interns, Volunteers, Staff, and Guests (where applicable) while on the property. Each person is responsible to abide by and enforce these all of the documentation in this contract. Any infraction of this contract should be immediately brought to the violator’s attention as well as to the coordinator and the Volunteer Committee. The Volunteer Coordinator must fill out an Incident Report (available on the site in the Training and Docs section on the left hand side bar). This report should be filled out with the pertinent information and submitted to the Volunteer Committee. The Volunteer Committee will decide the appropriate action or disciplinary measure (demotion, dismissal, etc.). Any infraction of the Intern Program Orientation Contract may result in an Incident Report, which will become a permanent record in the violator’s file or immediate removal from the program.


This section covers the intern application process only. Please read the entire Intern Orientation Contract (all of the information on this web page) so that you are completely aware of the requirements of the intern program, deposits and fees, work schedule, housing and transportation, and basic rules that apply to all interns, volunteers, and staff.

Big Cat Rescue can only accommodate a limited number of interns at any given time.

Applications are accepted year round.

It is recommended that you apply no later than three months prior to your desired start date, but applications will be accepted at anytime.

Acceptance into the program is on a rolling basis throughout the year and is based on the availability of housing and applicants.

If you would like to apply for the Big Cat Rescue Internship Program please complete the InternApplication below and submit the below listed required documents. (Email the preferred method for submitting applications)

The Intern Application will require the following documents, files, and information:

  1. Resume
  2. Cover letter
  3. A copy of your Driver’s License or Passport
  4. A quick (<3 minutes) video of you explaining why you want to intern at Big Cat Rescue. (Nothing fancy, you can do this from your phone or computer.)
  5. 3 professional References are required. Supervisors from jobs and volunteer opportunities preferred. Sport Coaches (or related) are also acceptable. No more than 1 education related reference will be accepted.

Applications for summer slots should be sent at least three months prior to the desired start date. Only completed applications will be  considered.

Link: Intern Application

Please send your application packet at least three months prior to the desired start date. Please provide all of the requested information in your application packet or your application will not be considered.


Within 2 weeks of receiving your application packet the Intern Manager will review it. The best applicants will then be contacted to schedule an interview session.


All candidates are required to participate in at least one Skype (video call) interview session.

Once an interview session has been scheduled, a non-refundable $50 application fee will then be required to hold your interview session dates and to perform a criminal background check.


After completion of your interview session a criminal background check will be performed. If you pass the criminal background check, you will hear from us within 3-4 weeks and will be notified as to whether or not you have been accepted. You will then be given a list of internship start dates to choose from.


Once you have confirmed your start date with the Intern Manager, the $300 deposit will be required to hold the internship slot and insures against failure to complete the requirements of the internship or damages to the housings. This deposit is taken via credit card.

The entire $300 deposit will be returned you after the successful completion of the internship. To successfully complete the internship you must have met all of the requirements of the internship, returned your radio in good working order, have not damaged any Big Cat Rescue property, and have passed your housing inspections.

The $300 deposit will not be returned to you if you; cancel your internship before it has started, do not show up on your scheduled start date, fail to successfully complete the internship, do not pass your housing inspections, do not return the radio in good working order, damage Big Cat Rescue property, leave the internship early, or are terminated from the internship due to breach of the Intern Orientation Contract.


Submit specific questions regarding the intern program via email to Chelsea Feeny:

Chelsea Feeny

Big Cat Rescue Programs Director

12802 Easy Street – Tampa, FL 33625


Does all of this sound like a dream job come true, but you live too far away?  Check out Zoo College:

Zoo College

Scholarship Media Offers Scholarships to Our Interns

EU International Intern Scholarship. Amount: $1,000. Deadline: Dec. 31st annually. Open to U.S. and international students, working as interns at a non-profit. Apply EU Business.

Minority College Scholarship. Amount: $1,000. Deadline: March 15th annually. Available to minority students with GPA above 3.0, interning at a non-profit organization. Apply PakTribune.


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