Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Currently Recruiting For...

The National Zoo is currently recruiting volunteer applications for Keeper Aides at the Department of Animal Health and Special Event Volunteers for Easter Monday.

For long-term assignments (interpreters, keeper aides, behavior watchers) we recommend that you only apply to the area where you are most interested in working, as you will not be eligible to volunteer with another unit for at least six months.

These positions are highly competitive and there are limited spaces available. Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis however submission of an application is not a guarantee of placement.


Keeper Aides: Department of Animal Health

The Zoo is home to a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital where a team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians ensures the good health of the collection's animals. This team both carries out a program of preventive medicine and treats ill and injured animals.

Volunteers are needed to help clean enclosures and procedure rooms, prepare animal diets, assist with cleaning duties after procedures, laundry, restocking supplies, and help to organize certain areas of the hospital. Also helping with prescriptions in the pharmacy as well as inventory and helping with paper work. Assistance with set up as well as break down of enclosures for hospitalized animals is frequently asked as well as assisting with regular hospital maintenance. There is minimal animal contact due to the fact that most animals are very sick or quarantined if they are at the hospital and require special and limited handling. However there is ample opportunity for observation of in hospital procedures. There are often opportunities for special projects or tasks that may vary weekly.


Age requirement: You must be at least 18 years old to volunteer.

Special qualifications: Volunteers should be physically fit and willing to work in all types of weather. Some animal care experience is preferred, but not required. Applicants studying biological sciences, animal science, or veterinary medicine are preferred, but no formal degree or training is required.

Time commitment: One day per week for a minimum of one year. Shifts are available on Fridays from 7am to 3pm and Sundays from 7:30am to noon.

Training: Once accepted, you must attend a mandatory Orientation session, usually held on the first Saturday of each month. Additional training will be provided on the job. There is a 3 shift probationary period for new volunteers.

Uniform Requirement: Volunteers must purchase and wear a Zoo Volunteer uniform shirt and a name badge which is included in the orientation/training fee of $20. Volunteers must also wear khaki pants (no jeans) and sturdy closed-toed shoes.

Application Process and Background Check Requirement: These positions are highly competitive with limited spacing available. Submission of an application is not a guarantee of placement. The Smithsonian Institution and FONZ are committed to providing the safest environment for our staff and volunteers, as well as for our guests. Applicants will be interviewed by staff, and those that are provisionally accepted must pass a Smithsonian background check (which includes fingerprinting) as a prior to their first volunteer shift.

Membership, Health Requirement and Additional Information: Once the background check has been passed, volunteers must sign up and complete General Orientation training, submit proof of required vaccinations (negative TB test and tetanus) to the NZP health unit, become a FONZ member in their first year of volunteering, and pay the orientation fee (includes volunteer shirt and name badge). Options are available for individuals for whom the fees and membership may not be manageable; please inquire with the Program's Supervisor for available options.

Questions: email us or call 202.633.4453.

Apply now through our ONLINE APPLICATION

Special Event: Easter Monday at the National Zoo

FONZ is actively recruiting volunteers now for Easter Monday: A Washington Family Tradition. The event is scheduled for Monday, April 6, and we need volunteers to help us manage our Easter Egg Hunt!

Special qualifications: The Egg Hunt is one of the most popular parts of Easter Monday. Tasks involve placing eggs at the hunt scene, helping children hunt and then replacing eggs as needed. You need to be friendly and welcoming and be comfortable assisting children and families as they hunt for eggs.

Time commitment: There will be a morning shift and an afternoon shift. You may sign up for one or both!

NOTE: If we are lucky enough to have good weather there will be large crowds and afternoon volunteers who drive will not be able to get into the park or to find parking in the surrounding neighborhoods. If you will be driving, please sign up for a morning shift only. If you will walk, bike, or metro to the Zoo please sign up for either shift.
  • Morning shift—9:45 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Afternoon shift—11:45 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
  • Age requirement: You must be at least 15 years old in order to volunteer at this event. Teens will be able to collect service hours for working at Easter Monday.

    Questions: We may have other volunteer opportunities at Easter Monday. To sign up, please email Rebecca or call 202-633-4456.


    Upcoming Recruiting:

    Check back frequently! There's always something going on at the Zoo! Information on applying will be posted along with each recruitment.

    Want to help the Zoo in another way? Join Friends of the National Zoo today.