Zoo Animal Presenters

Zoo Animal Presenters (ZAP) Program is a grant-funded youth program that employs young people as educators providing free conservation programming to systemically marginalized communities in the Portland metro area. ZAPs receive training and mentoring to hone their leadership and job skills, and explore job and career opportunities.

Who can be a ZAP?

ZAPs are teenagers ages 15 to 16 who show an interest in working with children and animals. Each fall, the zoo works with local high schools and community-based organizations to recruit potential ZAPs, with an emphasis on hiring community members of color and those from lower-income famillies. Every year, dozens of teens apply for 10 open positions. 

What do ZAPs do?

After training each spring, Zoo Animal Presenters work in the community:

  • First to third year ZAPs provide outreach programming for our partner organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, SUN schools and organizations that serve low-income communities. The ZAPs bring out small animals  such as snakes, lizards and bugs, as well as skulls and pelts to teach children about wildlife adaptations and natural history. 
  • Second year ZAPs are counselors with the zoo's Urban Nature Overnight program. In UNO, they teach third to fifth graders outdoor recreation skills and environmental concepts while camping at local natural areas suchas Oxbow Regional Park.
  • Third year ZAPs help hire, train and mentor first year ZAPs. In the summer they are placed in "intern" positions throughout the zoo, often including the Veterinary Medical Center, Animal Nutrition Center and Butterfly and Conservation Lab while helping organize and lead events for the program, and hosting community partner visits to the zoo.
The ZAP Program is funded through the generous support of the Oregon Zoo Foundation.