Horticulture garden planting
Child looking at spiny tailed lizard
Keeper showing snake to visitors
Keepers walking Flamingos through zoo
Keeper letting child pet lizard
Keeper showing snake to children

Volunteer Opportunities

Due to the coronavirus, we are currently assessing which opportunities may be available to new volunteers for the 2021 season. Please check back for updates and application information.

If you would like to learn about our one-day group volunteer?opportunities, please check out the Corporate & College Community Service tab.

Zoo Volunteer Requirements

Here is a list of qualities we look for when selecting volunteers:

  • Reliable and able to commit to a minimum number of shifts per month or season. This will vary a bit, depending on the area(s) for which you are selected. We ask that you contribute a?minimum of 50 hours annually. Typically, our volunteers work one three-hour shift each week.
  • A genuine interest in nature and conservation.
  • Friendly, outgoing, dependable. A positive attitude is a must!

Volunteers must also meet the following requirements:

  • Submit an online application and maintain an active user account on our volunteer website.
  • Be available for an in-person interview with our staff.
  • Be comfortable working with people of diverse backgrounds and special needs. Volunteers are expected to interact with everyone in a fair and respectful manner.
  • Be aware that volunteer activities take place in all weather conditions (heat, cold, rain, snow, etc.) and can require lifting, climbing, reaching, carrying, walking long distances and standing for extended periods in all environmental conditions, both indoors and outside. Please note, the Zoo has a 65-acre campus with many hills, and volunteer activities take place at a variety of locations throughout the extensive grounds.
  • Submit the required information for a background check.
  • Complete Zoo-wide and department-specific required training (details are noted below in the position descriptions).
  • Once accepted, contribute a non-refundable $25 program fee, and purchase a zoo uniform shirt for $15. Should this cause economic hardship for you these fees may be waived, just let us know!
  • Be able to receive relevant information via email such as animal and plant updates, continuing education and shift schedules, and special events invitations.

Benefits and perks of being a CZBG Volunteer

  • Annual festivities for volunteers
  • Opportunities for continuing education
  • Volunteer newsletter, with “insider” information about what’s happening at the Zoo
  • Discounts to various lectures and Zoo events
  • Discount at the Zoo’s restaurants and Zoo Shops
  • 50% discount when purchasing general admission tickets
  • 20% discount on CZBG membership
  • Use of the Zoo library Monday through Friday
  • Free parking while working your volunteer assignment

Volunteer Educators?

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CarolynOur Volunteer Educators (VEs) are an important part of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Education Department. VEs create quality experiences for guests and support programs that promote the mission of the Zoo. As a VE, you will begin by staffing our Wild Discover Zones (WDZ). These are “classrooms” on wheels placed at key habitats throughout the Zoo that contain interpretive materials for fun activities and educational interactions with guests. VEs may also help facilitate School Events and act as hosts for school field trips.

Number of Positions: Recruitment for this role will begin in the Fall of 2020

Training:?New Volunteer Educator training consists of 20 hours of required combined activities.

  • Six orientation sessions held on either Friday or Saturday, 10 am – 12 pm, Jan through Feb (12 hours; new volunteer educators only).
  • Four assembly style lecture and discussion natural history sessions with Zoo staff from multiple scheduled offerings for each topic, from January through March. (8 hours; all volunteer educators).

Hours: You must be able to commit to a minimum of 54 hours per year of training and staffing Wild Discover Zones, with a combination of both AM shifts (9:15 – 11:45) and PM shifts (12:15 – 2:45).

  • First Session: January – April: 24 hours in a combination of training hours and two WDZ shifts in April.
  • Second Session: May – August: 20 hours staffing WDZ.
  • Third Session: September – October: 10 hours staffing WDZ.

Requirements:?Volunteer Educators must be physically able to travel (walking or personal power mobility device) across the Zoo grounds to any Wild Discover Zone and staff a Wild Discover Zone for a full shift (2.5 hours) in various weather conditions.?An annual negative TB test result may be required.

Wild Encounters

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The Wild Encounters program here at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a part of the Department of Fun! – We engage visitors that walk through the park with animals through handling demonstrations, feeding stations, and animal walks. We are a group of about 70 staff, volunteers, and interns that carry out the mission of the zoo, getting visitors “close enough to care” and “inspiring every visitor with wildlife, every day.” Hopefully, you’ve seen us around the park; we are usually the ones with big crates or coolers walking to our next location for a random animal encounter, scooping up after the goats in the contact yard, helping the public feed the giraffe, or taking brisk walks with our group of interpretive flamingos. We handle animals from cockroaches to snakes to armadillos, and have lots of fun along the way! All Wild Encounters volunteers begin as Animal Stations volunteers.

Wild Encounters Animal Stations:?Our Animal Stations volunteers are our key interpreters in the Contact Yard, Blakely’s Barnyard, and Recreation yards, with opportunities to assist in walking flamingos and barnyard animals as well as interpret during our Galapagos Tortoise encounter.

Number of Positions: Recruitment for this role will begin in the Fall of 2020

Required training: Volunteer Orientation, one session of Foundations of Interpretation and additional role-specific training. An annual negative TB test result is required.

Animal Enrichment

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Animal Enrichment (AE) volunteers create safe items which will stimulate animals’ natural behaviors through sight, sound, scent, texture and more.

Volunteers assist the Enrichment Committee?by building various types of approved enrichment toys or devices for the animals at the zoo. Animal Enrichment volunteers research, design, and create enrichment items for the Zoo’s animal community. This is a great opportunity for people who are crafty, can paint, paper mache, use power tools and/or have woodworking skills and enjoy problem-solving.

Number of Positions: Recruitment for this role will begin in the Fall of 2020

Required training:?Zoo volunteer orientation and two role-specific training sessions.?An annual negative TB test result is required.

Hours requirements and shifts:?You must commit to a minimum of two 3 hour shifts per month. Shifts are Thursdays from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.??

CREW ?The Carl H. Lindner Jr. Family Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife

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CREW’s mission is Saving Species with Science. Channeling the strengths and expertise of the scientific staff, CREW takes a focused approach to wildlife conservation by identifying four areas, or Signature Projects, where we believe our impact can be significant.

There are many ways to volunteer with CREW. Volunteer opportunities include (click on each role for additional details):

  • Support Services
  • CREW Interpreter at Rhino Reserve
  • Speaker’s Bureau/Building tour guide for pre-registered groups
  • Assisting keepers of the domestic cat colony with feeding, cleaning, and animal socializing
  • Endocrine Lab

Selection Process and Training Requirements: Small group or individual interviews will be scheduled between November and January. Selected volunteers must complete the volunteer orientation and role-specific training (role specific training dates will be noted in each position description and attendance to all training is mandatory).

crewSupport Services

Support Services involves staffing the front/reception desk at CREW. Volunteers are responsible for greeting visitors, monitoring the sign-in sheet, and keeping the information table stocked. This position includes cleaning the outside of test tubes, labeling tubes for samples, refilling pipette boxes and entering data. There is always something new to do to help CREW staff while at the desk. This is a year-round position, Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Number of Positions: Recruitment for this role will begin in the Fall of 2020

Required training: Volunteer orientation, OSHA training, and role-specific training provided on an individual basis.

CREW Interpreters

As a CREW Interpretive Volunteer, you will staff the CREW Cart, which is located between the black rhino and Arctic Fox habitats. Here you will use interpretive materials to inspire guests to support conservation as well as engage/educate guests about the conservation efforts taking place at CREW surrounding the four?Signature Projects: rhinos, small cats, polar bears, and exceptional plants.

When the?Saving Species with Science exhibit re-opens, (date TBD) after undergoing a renovation, CREW Interpretive Volunteers will be asked to move between the cart and the exhibit engaging, educating, and inspiring guests.

Number of Positions: Recruitment for this role will begin in the Fall of 2020

Required training: Volunteer Orientation, one session of Foundations of Interpretation, and two CREW training sessions.

Hours:?You must be able to commit to a minimum of two 3-hour shifts per month between April 1 – October 31 when the CREW cart is open.

CREW Speakers Bureau/Building Tours

Volunteers must be dynamic, engaging, and enjoy working with school groups, both large and small. Responsibilities include providing in-depth information about the scientific work taking place at CREW, both through a PowerPoint presentation and in providing tours of the building. A science background is not necessary, but a pro-active attitude and a willingness to learn certainly is. This is a year-round position. Presentations and tours are given Monday – Friday, during business hours.

Number of Positions: Recruitment for this role will begin in the Fall of 2020

Required training: Volunteer Orientation, one session of Foundations of Interpretation, OSHA training, and new volunteers will be paired with an experienced volunteer to shadow multiple times, before being scheduled to give presentations/tours on their own.

IMG_2970CREW Domestic Cat Colony

Volunteers must love domestic cats and enjoy working in a fast-paced, physical environment. Responsibilities include removing dirty bowls, litter pans, beds, and toys from the cat rooms, cleaning everything thoroughly and re-setting the rooms for the day. Socializing with the cats is their reward and yours too!

This is a year-round volunteer activity, with volunteer opportunities on weekdays and weekends.

Number of Positions: Recruitment for this role will begin in the Fall of 2020

Required training: Volunteer Orientation, OSHA training, and role-specific training will be conducted on an individual basis with the manager of the cat colony. An annual negative TB test result is required.

Endocrine Lab

Volunteers in the Endocrine Lab are involved in the preparation of fecal samples to be used by the researchers for various modes of study. Responsibilities include labeling tubes and bags, cleaning dried fecal samples, pounding fecal samples into a powder and weighing them. This activity can be dusty. Those with allergies and breathing problems may find these tasks very challenging.

Number of Positions: Recruitment for this role will begin in the Fall of 2020

Required training: Volunteer Orientation,?OSHA training, and three role-specific training sessions will be scheduled on an individual basis.

Hours:?You must be able to commit to two shifts per month. Shifts are Monday-Friday during business hours.


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We aren’t just a Zoo, we are also a Botanical Garden! If you already love to garden, would like to learn more from experienced gardeners, or simply want to walk around the spectacular Zoo grounds and say “I did that!”, join our Horticulture team. Our volunteers help grow, plant and maintain the dozens of beautiful garden beds around the Zoo and maintain the wetland habitat at Bowyer Farm Wetland & Native Plant Nursery.

  • Garden Volunteer – Plant annuals, tulip bulbs, perennials, and small shrubs in floral display beds and decorative containers; pull weeds in gardens and nurseries, mulch display areas, maintain perennial display beds, pot annual and perennial plugs; pot, maintain, and process tropical plants; and assist with plant sales.
  • Garden Engagement – Share information with guests on gardening for wildlife, pass out seed packets, answer gardening questions at our “What’s Blooming” station, and engage young visitors through educational horticulture games and encounters.
  • Horticulture Events – Help with events such as the Native Plant Symposium, National Public Garden Day, Tree Carnival, Pollinator Carnival, and other events throughout the year.
  • Bowyer Farm Wetland & Native Plant Nursery (offsite: Warren County) – Maintain the integrity of the wetland and aethetics of the overall site; plant and weed areas of the wetland; pot, transplant, and maintain plants in the Native Plant Nursery, assist with native plant sales, and conduct educational opportunities during public and private events.

Number of Positions: Recruitment for this role will begin in the Fall of 2020

Training:?Zoo Volunteer Orientation and 3 training sessions with our Horticulture staff in March.

Hours: Horticulture volunteers typically work one 3 hour shift per week. Seasonal work days are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.

Dive In – Volunteer Diver

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Our volunteer SCUBA divers provide valuable assistance to our keepers by helping to maintain exhibits to the high standards required by the American Zoological Association (AZA). Our divers must also meet CZBG and OSHA safety and qualifications/requirements, including:

  • Minimum Open Water SCUBA Diver certification (PADI, NAUI, SSI, YMCA, etc.)
  • A minimum of 12 open water dives logged and the most recent must have been in the last 12 months
  • Attend diver skills assessment
  • Demonstrate a level of comfort and competence in the exhibit
  • CPR/First Aid Certification
  • Current TB test
  • Proof of Medical Insurance (DAN insurance can be supplemental)
  • Annual Physician’s Authorization Form
  • Liability Release
  • Be willing to commit to the financial obligations associated with these qualifications
  • Ongoing mandatory training and evaluation
  • Commit to a minimum of 1-2 shifts per month to remain an active member of the team
  • Divers must provide their own wetsuit, mask, and boots

If selected for an interview, documentation must be provided prior to the interview.

If you can meet these requirements please email [email protected] and you will be contacted regarding your next steps.

If you are in need of Diving or Trip Insurance, why not get it through the Zoo’s DAN Industry Partnership. ?The cost is the same as it normally would be, but the Zoo gets points for each membership it sells or renews, which in turn can be used to purchase DAN safety equipment for zoo areas. Follow the links below for more information.

Flight Aviary Attendant

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The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden seeks to “inspire every visitor with wildlife everyday,” and the Flight Aviary provides visitors with the opportunity to interact with some of our feathered friends. Our Flight Aviary Attendants play an important role in the Flight Aviary experience for visitors by helping visitors engage with the birds, in a fun, safe, and respectful manner. Volunteers also help interpret and educate visitors about the species in the aviary. The Flight Aviary is truly a fun experience for visitors and volunteers alike!

Number of Positions: Recruitment for this role will begin in the Fall of 2020

Hours and shifts: You must commit to a minimum of two 2.5 hour shifts per month during the flight aviary season, May-September. Shifts are seven days a week from 10:00 am – 12:30 pm and 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm.

Training: Volunteer Orientation and additional role-specific training.


  • An annual negative TB test result is required.
  • Be FUN, encouraging, and great with communication!
  • Be able to help guests follow the safety protocols, while still enjoying the experience.
  • Be able to stand the whole 2.5 hour shift.
  • Be able to be outside in the heat for the whole shift.


Due to the coronavirus, we are currently assessing which opportunities may be available to new volunteers for the 2021 season. Please check back for updates and application information.

Don’t forget there are lots of other wonderful organizations in the Cincinnati area that would love to connect with service-minded community members! To explore other volunteer?opportunities, please visit www.CincinnatiCares.org.

Contact us:

Email: [email protected]

Cincinnati ZooTeens

The ZooTeen program is perfect for teenagers who love nature, animals, and people! ZooTeens build knowledge, gain leadership experience, and develop professional skills while having a lot of FUN working with our Education, Visitor Experience, or Horticulture departments.

Click here to learn about the Education and Visitor Experience track:

ZooTeens have the opportunity to move through three different leadership tiers: Barn Owls, Red-tailed Hawks, and Bald Eagles. First-year ZooTeens are placed in the Barn Owl tier. This tier focuses on developing public speaking skills, confidence, and animal knowledge by interpreting various Wild Discover Zones around the Zoo and working with Summer Camp! ZooTeens who advance to the Red-tailed Hawk tier gain the additional opportunity to volunteer in the goat yard in Children’s Zoo, the Galapagos Tortoise Yard, and help coach Barn Owl ZooTeens. ZooTeens who advance to the Bald Eagle tier do all this and can have the opportunity to specialize their skills in focus areas such as environmental education, coaching peers, animal handling and interpretation, or research in our CREW division. Bald Eagle ZooTeens are expected to be leaders in the ZooTeen community through coaching the Barn Owl and Red-tailed Hawk tiers.

We are committed to our teens and this experience, we ask that teens in the program also be committed to the Zoo and meet the following time requirements.

Barn Owls (White)Red-tailed Hawks (Red)Bald Eagles (Black)
? 2 full day weeks of camp
? 1 half day shift per week on non-camp weeks
? 2 full day OR half day weeks of camp
? 1 half day shift per week on non-camp weeks
? 1 full day week of camp
? 1 half day shift per week on non-camp weeks
Minimum Requirement: 120 hours Minimum Requirement: 120 hours Minimum Requirement: 84 hours

*These hours are minimums and can be exceeded, ZooTeens can serve up to 40 hours (including lunch) per week, if they choose.

Shifts for the ZooTeen program are 8 am-12 pm and 1 pm-5 pm for weekly days on non-camp weeks.? When in summer camp, the ZooTeen agrees to serve 8 am-4: 15 pm Monday-Friday.

Click here to learn about the Plant and Pollinator track:

ZooTeens on the Plant and Pollinator track have the unique opportunity to help in the gardens on our spectacular grounds! Plant and Pollinator ZooTeens work alongside our Horticulture Department staff helping with planting, weeding, watering, monitoring pollinators and other various activities throughout the Zoo’s gardens.

We are committed to our teens and this experience, we ask that teens in the program also be committed to the Zoo and meeting the following time requirements.

ZooTeen Qualities, Requirements, and Application Information:

These are some of the qualities we look for when selecting ZooTeens:

  • A genuine passion for nature and conservation
  • A positive attitude and an inquisitive mind
  • A willingness to learn and challenge yourself to do new things
  • Reliable and able to commit to the hours required for the leadership tier for which you are selected

ZooTeens must also meet the following requirements:

  • Be available for an in-person interview with our staff
  • Be between the age of 13 and 17 by May 1, 2021
  • Attend a two-part orientation and training dates for the position based on leadership tier
    • All ZooTeens:
      • Orientation ONE dates: April 17 or April 18, 2021
      • Orientation TWO dates: May 15 or May 16, 2021
    • Returning Red-tailed Hawk and Bald Eagle ZooTeens:
      • Position-based training dates and times for 2021 TBD but will likely be in late April and early May
    • Once accepted, contribute a non-refundable $15 program fee and purchase a Zoo uniform shirt for $15. Should this cause economic hardship, these fees may be waived, just let us know.
    • Be able to receive important information via email and create a ZooTeen profile online where you can update your personal information and log service hours (NOTE: We respect your privacy and never share personal information with anyone outside our organization).

Our ZooTeen program is very popular and we do not have enough opportunities to accommodate all who want to participate, so please, do not be upset if you are not selected.? If you have been a teenage volunteer in past years, that is NOT a guarantee that you will be selected this year. Notification of decisions are sent via email on April 1, 2021.

Apply online by clicking here between December 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021. We do not accept late applications.?

Contact us:

Email:?[email protected]

Duke Energy Volunteers at the Zoo!

Corporate & College Community Service

*COVID-19 Update: Thank you for your interest in the Zoo’s Community Service Programs. For the safety of staff and volunteers, larger groups will be split into teams of no more than ten. All participants must agree to our COVID policy, which includes wearing a mask and staying a minimum of six feet apart*

If your organization is looking for opportunities to have fun while taking meaningful conservation action through community service, then join us at the Zoo to participate in hands-on projects on our grounds or at our farm.

Groups have the opportunity to work with Zoo staff on various projects that could involve helping with horticulture tasks like planting, mulching, weeding, helping the Zoo come to life for the epic Festival of Lights, or working on projects at the beautiful Bowyer Farm. It will be fun, informative and your valuable time will be well-spent!

Submit a Request!

Who can join?

Corporate groups and college groups over the age of 18. Please note, most?volunteer activities take place outside and can require some light lifting, reaching, carrying, standing and walking throughout Zoo grounds.

Group size: Minimum of 8 and generally a maximum of 30. If your group is larger than 30, please note that on your project request form and we can discuss possible options.

What can we do?

*Volunteer events typically run from 8:30am to 12:00pm*

  • Festival of Lights: Join our maintenance department and help prepare for the amazing Festival of Lights!

Available Days: Wednesdays and Thursdays (August through early November)

  • Horticulture:?Join our horticulture department in various gardening projects on Zoo grounds!

Available Day: Tuesdays (March through early December)

  • Bowyer Farm:?Join us at Bowyer Farm to work on projects such as wetland restoration, native species planting, or collecting browse for our animals friends to munch on at the Zoo!

Available Days: Wednesdays and Fridays (Year-round)

How does it work?

Click here to submit your service project request and see available dates to serve alongside the departments noted above. We will respond to your request within five business days!

Service hour credits

At this time, we cannot accommodate court-ordered service hours.
Questions? Contact the AmeriCorps Volunteer & Community Engagement Member at [email protected].

Family Community Service

Join the Zoo to make a positive change in our community! Opportunities are available for adults and families/small groups to volunteer for a few hours at a time to participate in hands-on wildlife conservation efforts spearheaded by the Zoo and our community partners.

Join us for a single event, join us for all, or choose just your favorite activities that fit your schedule from the list below. Family Community Service volunteers are not required to meet a certain number of hours each year.

Who can join?

Adults and families/small groups who are ready to take conservation action in a social environment; all participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

What will we do?

We’ll participate in group conservation activities organized by Zoo staff and our community partners, such as:

  • Collecting and contributing data to local and global citizen science projects such as BeeSpotter, Great Backyard Bird Count, FrogWatch, and MonarchWatch
  • Restoring and maintaining natural habitats, e.g. planting trees, creating pollinator gardens, removing invasive plant species
  • Cleaning up our natural areas, e.g. river and park cleanups
  • Make our spaces more wildlife-friendly places, e.g. building bird and bat houses
  • Educating and encouraging ourselves and others to conserve natural resources, e.g. participating in Earth Day booth
  • And more!

How does it work?

  1. Look below for upcoming events; check back often to see what’s been added and sign up via My Volunteer Page.
  2. When you see an event in which you’re interested, click on it for more details. Note: While families/groups with children are encouraged to participate in many activities, some may be appropriate only for adults.
  3. Log in to My Volunteer Page and sign up yourself and/or your family/small group for the specific event at least one week in advance of the event.
    • If this is your first event with us, you’ll need to apply to be a Community Service volunteer with the Cincinnati Zoo on My Volunteer Page before you can sign up for an event. If you already have a My Volunteer Page account, please sign in with your current username and password. If you’re new to My Volunteer Page, create a new account. Once your application is approved, you’ll be notified by email (generally within 1-2 days).
  4. Once you’ve signed up for an event, you’ll receive a confirmation email within the next 1-2 days. The confirmation email will include directions, e.g. what to wear, what to bring, where to meet, and so on.
  5. Show up at the right place and time ready to go!

Service hour credits

At this time, we cannot accommodate court-ordered service hours.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming 2020 Events:

Please check back for updated information.

Questions? Email [email protected].