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.

ZooGuides are made up of 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 or equivalent
  • can attend 34 hours of training (28 hrs classroom, 6 hrs program observations)
  • can volunteer at the zoo for an average of one shift per week

Your opportunities for the first 6 months:
ZooGuides work:

  • roving zoo grounds sharing the zoo’s story of its animals, animal welfare and conservation through meaningful engagement with guests
  • in the information booth helping guests plan their visit to the zoo
  • on the volunteer enrichment team, working on animal enrichment items
  • on conservation activities such as habitat restoration and wildlife surveys in nearby wildlife refuges and natural areas.
  • In providing support for the zoo’s annual and seasonal events.

Opportunities after 6 months:

  • with landscapers, working on horticultural projects
  • educational outreach
  • onsite educational classes
  • school group ambassadors
  • keeper observations
Opportunities after 1 year of active volunteering:
  • specialized presentations on grounds
  • in animal care, helping prepare food and cleaning animal habitats
  • in research, conducting animal behavior observations and visitor surveys
  • volunteer safety team


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

ZooGuides receive:

  • a meaningful volunteer opportunity
  • a chance to learn new skills
  • opportunities to learn and keep up to date on trends in zoos, particularly the Oregon Zoo
  • camaraderie, working as part of a dedicated team of volunteers
  • free zoo admission throughout the year
  • free parking while volunteering
  • discounted Oregon Zoo membership
  • discounts in the zoo's restaurants and gift shop
  • a monthly volunteer newsletter

How to apply- fall class information will be updated the week of August 19, 2019

  1. Apply online when application becomes available; you will be signing up for an information orientation session in the application.
  2. Attend an information orientation session.
  3. Participate in an interview with a member of our Volunteer Training Team.
  4. Upon acceptance to the ZooGuide Training Program:

           - you will need to successfully complete a background check which includes finger printing
          - pay a one time $75 non-refundable processing fee (scholarships are available)
          - attend all four training sessions in full
          - participate in two additional program observations during the training period

Informational Orientation options will be posted the week of August 19, 2019

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 three hours each.

Training session dates will be posted the week of August 19, 2019. The average day is 9 a.m.–4:00 p.m. To participate in the program you must attend all 4 training sessions in full.  ZooGuide trainings are held annually in the fall (September/October) and winter (January/ February.)

The ZooGuide program is one of many volunteer programs offered at the Oregon Zoo. This particular program does require a certain level of commitment. 

Our program welcomes job coaches or personal aides for program participants, if you have a client interested in this program please contact  the volunteer coordinator prior to completing the application process.


Email the Volunteer Coordinator