ZooGuides are adults who match their skills and enthusiasm with the zoo's needs. As part of the zoo's most extensive volunteer program, ZooGuides work throughout the zoo and offsite as well, bringing animal conservation programs to schools and seniors.

ZooGuides look a lot like all of us: retired professionals, college students, people changing careers, freelancers, and more. If you enjoy contributing, learning and making a difference, you've got what it takes to be a ZooGuide.

Who can volunteer

ZooGuides are adults ages 18 and older who:

  • have completed high school
  • can attend 32 hours of training
  • can volunteer at the zoo for at least 88 hours per year.

What you'll do

ZooGuides work:

  • as "animal talkers" who share their passion and knowledge for a particular animal at the relevant exhibit
  • in the officeat the information booth
  • on conservation activities such as habitat restoration and wildlife surveys in nearby wildlife refuges and natural areas.
  • in research, conducting animal behavior observations and visitor surveys
  • with landscapers, working on horticultural projects
  • on construction, for events and shows
  • giving talks to visitors about the animal collection
  • on the volunteer enrichment team, working on animal enrichment items
  • in animal care, helping prepare food and caring for animals at the African Pygmy Goat Kraal.

ZooGuides also work offsite, taking small animals like chickens, hedgehogs and ducks to presentations at Head Start programs, schools and senior living and memory care facilities.


Many ZooGuides say they receive as much or more than they give.

ZooGuides get:

  • meaningful work
  • an opportunity to learn new skills
  • camaraderie, working as part of a dedicated team of volunteers
  • free zoo admission throughout the year
  • discounts in the zoo's restaurants
  • a monthly volunteer newsletter
  • an annual recognition event

How to apply

  1. Apply online.
  2. Attend an information session. They're held annually in January and September.
  3. Pending interview, acceptance and a successful background check, begin training.

Fall 2016 Orientation options:

Saturday, September 10, 10-11:30 a.m. - FULL
Tuesday, September 13, 10-11:30 a.m.
Thursday, September 15, 10-11:30 a.m.

If accepted to the ZooGuide Training program, you will be required to attend all training sessions in full, spend additional time becoming familiar with the Zoo grounds and participate in two required program observations, which are approximately two hours each.

Training session dates are four Saturdays: October 1, 8, 15 and 22, 2016. You must attend all four trainings. The average day runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To apply for the program and sign up for an orientation session, please complete the application.


503-220-2783 or email the Volunteer Coordinator