Master’s degree required for unpaid internship at London Zoo


London Zoo has been criticised for advertising a post for a graduate holding Master’s degree to work in central London. For no pay.

London Zoo job
“To make the job viable, I have to live in a 1 bedroom apartment in Sealand”

After racking of tens of thousands of pounds in debt putting yourself through University and then going on to complete a Master’s degree, you might well expect a little more than is on offer. In exchange for the graduate helping organise events, update social media and identify opportunities, London Zoo is offering £5 per day for lunch and a travelcard.

Critics complain that the zoo is using a loophole to avoid paying the intern, exploiting graduates who are desperate to get experience and not only causing hardship to those that take the job, but completely excluding those that simply cannot financially afford to do them.

London Zoo intern job ad
The London Zoo job advert

Tanya de Grunwald from Graduate Frog contacted London Zoo to ask them how they can justify that the role is ‘volunteer’ when it is 4-5 days per week.

A media manager from London Zoo replied with this statement:

The advertisement for the volunteer internship at the Zoological Society of London is to support our conservation efforts to save the pangolin, a project in partnership with the IUCN Species Survival Commission.

As an international conservation charity with limited grant funding for this project, we are grateful for the donation of time from our dedicated volunteers and are appreciative of whatever availability they have. This role is flexible to suit the candidate – it does not have fixed hours or working days, and we cover travel expenses within the Greater London area and provide a daily lunch allowance.

The role is not exclusive to undergraduates or Masters students, and will provide fantastic experience in a global conservation organisation and unparalleled networking opportunities for those interested in pursuing a career in this field.

Tanya goes to point on that a number of charities have been questioned about their ethics of their use of unpaid interns, including the National Trust, the British Institute of Human Rights and the Globe Theatre. In 2012, Labour MP Hazel Blears tried to close this loophole, but her attempts failed.

A graduate, wishing to remain anonymous, who was considering applying for the role at London Zoo described the situation as “disheartening” and “a sad state of affairs for ZSL.”

Should London Zoo offer pay for this role?

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The Editor

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