Description: Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife and to promote understanding and appreciation of wildlife through our Education Outreach Program. Our internships are set up to help us fulfill our mission statement and interns will contribute in all aspects of this statement throughout their term (each term is at least 2.5 months). Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is a non-profit organization run primarily by volunteers, and interns will assist in any area that may be lacking help, as well as accomplish regular duties each week.

Intern Process

Interns who are in pursing veterinary, biology, or ecological educational tracks in a professional career in wildlife will be given special consideration. We realize that the time period for which you are available may be limited, so we would make different arrangements with you. We also have small stipends available for those with previous training or for those who can extend the 4 hour a week commitment. In the past, we have also been able to use our extensive supporter list to secure temporary housing in a case-by-case capacity. Letters of Recommendations are also available with more details upon request. With the above exceptions, all other requirements are the same as the New Volunteer Process.

 We also have our own organization’s training requirements mandated by our Board of Directors and insurance providers. We take these commitments very seriously and are unable to adjust any of these requirements for any individuals who may request us to do so.

​Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue’s Internship Program is an unpaid position developed to teach students in related majors about wildlife conservation, how to properly work with and handle wildlife, intake exams, medical treatments and procedures, natural history and education aspects of wildlife rescue, care and maintenance of animals and their housing, and fundraising.

We expect interns to work closely with staff members to accomplish important tasks during the day. A detailed description of duties can be found below.

Summer vs Fall and Spring: 

Summer internships are more structured and include an orientation to introduce all applicants to the program and help you understand what is expected and some duties that may be asked of you. There is a much greater need for interns and therefore more applicants are accepted. There will also be more hands on work with wildlife because there are more patients in the summer than any other season.  Fall and Spring internships are limited and more easy going as far as scheduling and how to get started. Applicants will go through an individual meeting with a staff member to talk about the program and the needs during the slower months of the year and do an individual orientation. There will be little hands on experience with wildlife because there are less patients but there will be some when animals require it.

Requirements and considerations:

  • All interns MUST be 18 years or older.

  • All interns must be flexible. Things change quickly throughout the day and week and many tasks will have to be set aside for more important animal care duties. Interns must feel comfortable in an environment with unpredictable outcomes.

  • Commitment is extremely important. Interns must be reliable and committed to coming in on their scheduled days of work because others will be relying on their contribution to get everything done that day.

  • Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is not a petting zoo. You will be working with the animals, but it is important to remember these animals are wild and terrified of us, and that they can’t be talked to, cuddled, or pet.

  • It is not glamorous. The work is dirty and most tasks will have the potential to get you dirty. Interns will be required to clean animal cages and enclosures and handle wildlife that can and will be filthy.

  • Wildlife have parasites. 100% of animals that come through our doors have parasites. Whether it is fleas, ticks, lice, or worms, they will have one or more that they can share with us. Parasite control is used effectively, but be aware, you will be exposed. Wash your hands!

  • It can be dangerous. Interns will be handling wildlife and working in enclosures with wildlife that can and will bite or scratch when they are scared. Safety training is required before these duties will be assigned. When properly trained, dangerous situations can be avoided.

  • It is emotional. The work performed at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is all done for the animals and their best interest must always come first. If it is determined that an animal must be euthanized, everyone working must be comfortable and aware that this is best for the animal. We cannot project our emotions onto the animals and must always consider how the animal feels about the situation, not how we feel.

  • The reward is great. Interns will be involved in the care of these wild animals and will get to enjoy and take part in their release. 

Summer interns will be required to attend an Internship Orientation and Fall and Spring interns will be required to set up a meeting with a staff member and schedule an intern orientation.


The internship program is designed to allow students to gain experience in wildlife rehabilitation and take part in this rare opportunity to work directly with wild animals. This program will help you learn rehabilitation techniques and procedures and will allow you to work with experienced wildlife rehabilitators who have gone through numerous trainings to stay up to date on the latest techniques.

However, please note that most of the duties will revolve around cleaning. Animal handling is kept to a minimum because the animals are terrified when being handled so these duties are done as quickly as possible. Laundry, dishes, cleaning animal enclosures, helping feed the animals, cleaning hospital supplies, and cleaning kennels will be common daily tasks.

Duties will include but are not limited to:

  • Animal intake and exams
  • Medical treatments
  • Administering medications, fluids, parasite control and general care
  • Rescues
  • Releases
  • Weighing
  • Feeding
  • Bottle feeding
  • Cleaning, scrubbing, stripping and re-mulching enclosures
  • LOTS OF CLEANING and manual labor
  • Education/toursAdministrative duties
  • Laundry
  • Preparing diets
  • Cutting up rats, mice, fish and chickens is required
  • And did I mention cleaning!

Keep in mind many medical duties require training, which may not be available right away depending on staff availability. Some to all of these duties may need to be performed by trained staff until you have been trained.

We expect our interns to understand that wildlife rehabilitation is not just about caring for the animals and there is a lot of husbandry involved in keeping the place functional. This internship will require that you work cooperatively with others to get all tasks done, even if they are not the most glamorous. Although some tasks may seem mundane, after you have completed the internship you will understand all that it takes to run a wildlife rehabilitation center and appreciate all the hard work that goes into keeping the center running.


Schedules are made before your internship begins. Each internship term is at least 2.5 months long, we do not accept applicants who can not commit to 2.5 months.For fall and spring internships: We allow you to choose your own schedule, but expect you to commit to the schedule you create.We require you to work a minimum of 8 hours a week. For summer internships, there is an AM and PM shift. You are required to do a minimum of 3 shifts a week up to 24 hours a week) but we work around work schedules. Shifts are non-negotiable; these shifts allow us to provide the best care to the growing babies we have on site throughout the summer.  An internship is like a job and should be treated as such.

Vacations and Time Off:

We understand that throughout your internship, you may have a vacation or event planned. We allow one vacation/event of a total of 3 missed scheduled days for each internship term, which amounts to a week off this summer. Each internship term is at least 2.5 months


Applications can be sent in anytime for Fall and Spring internships and no later than May 29th for Summer. There is no application form. Instead please send a letter of why you would benefit from the internship, and a resume. All applicants will be invited to an orientation. A limited number of applicants will be chosen so make sure your application best reflects you and your experience. There is no fee to apply, but for interns who do decide to participate in the program, there is a $70 administrative fee, payable at the end of the orientation.  Scholarships are available for those with limited means.

Send applications to:

US Mail: PO Box 448, Cotati Ca 94931

Fax: 707-992-0720

Please address to Desiree McGunagle

For more information please contact Desiree McGunagle, Volunteer and Community Support Coordinator, at or 707-992-0274.


Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue

Hotline: (707) 526-WILD(9453) ~ Business Office: (707) 992-0274 ~ Exclusion Service (707) 992-0276
Location: 403 Mecham Rd, Petaluma CA 94952​
​Mailing Address: PO Box 448, Cotati CA 94931
​Email Us:

Please send any emails regarding donations or finances to

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Summer, fall and spring internships are now available. Work alongside the staff and other volunteers to provide care to wildlife patients and keep the facility running smoothly. Check it out below. 

Click here to read our article "Straight from the Interns Mouth" to hear about the 2012 Summer Internship.