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Bring Back Bison

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Currently Recruiting For . .

The National Zoo is currently accepting applications for Special Event Volunteers for Zoofari and Education Interpreters at Reptile Discovery Center.

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.

Special Event Volunteers: Zoofari
Thursday, May 15

ZooFari is the National Zoo’s premier food tasting event, featuring food from area restaurants, music, an auction, and more—all in the unique setting of the National Zoo.  At this event, hundreds of visitors enjoy attending for the chance to socialize, relax, and try special treats prepared by well-known area restaurants while enjoying live music and entertainment. 

This year’s ZooFari fundraiser is scheduled for Thursday, May 15, 2014, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.  

Your help is essential to our success!
Volunteers whether serving as ticket takers, greeters, or table hosts are all essential to the success of this major fundraising event which helps to support the Zoo’s conservation, research, and education programs.  

Volunteer duties:
Volunteers are needed to assist with a variety of assignments from working at the registration tables, acting as event greeters, being table hosts in the Premier Pavilion and the LivingSocial Lion Lounge, assisting at the silent auction, or working at the take-a-chance booth.  We will make assignments and send confirmation information prior to the event. We make every effort to accommodate specific job requests but do appreciate your flexibility in job assignment to help us ensure every essential job has a great volunteer to go with it!

Time commitment:
  The volunteer shift is 4:30pm to at least 9:30pm. Dinner will be provided by one of our gracious sponsors. (Please note that meals are donated, if you have allergies or special dietary concerns we may not be able to accommodate them so please plan accordingly.)

Age Requirement: This is a ticketed event where alcoholic beverages are served. Volunteers must be at least 21 years old.

Please note: staff and volunteers may not visit the event booths to sample specialty food and drinksVolunteers may visit the mega bars during breaks for soda or water, and may not drink alcoholic beverages at this event.  

This ZooFari policy is consistent with the product sampling policy for all of our other fundraisers including Boo at the Zoo (where we also provide dinner and ask volunteers to refrain from sampling products at booths).

Once assigned, confirmation details including job descriptions will be sent prior to the event. Additional training will be provided on the job.

Uniform: Volunteers should wear a white button down shirt and khaki pants/skirts. No jeans please.  A name tag will be provided for first time volunteers when you check in. Please be sure to dress for the weather!

Getting to the Zoo:
 Volunteers are strongly encouraged to take Metro to the zoo; if you must drive information about parking will be provided with your confirmation.

For more information and to sign up: For additional information and to sign up email us or call 202.633.1105. Please inclue the following in your email:

  • Your name
  • Preferred email address for contact
  • A cell or contact phone number
  • Confirm that you are 21 and up.
  • Preferred job assignment :

______ Registration
______ Silent Auction
______ Table Host
______ Take-A-Chance
______ I am flexible—assign me where the need is greatest!

Once assigned, confirmation details including job descriptions will be sent prior to the event.

Education Interpreters: Reptile Discovery Center
The National Zoo’s Reptile Discovery Center exhibit is home to an astonishing collection including snakes, lizards, frogs, turtles, and crocodiles.  The exhibit is extremely popular with Zoo visitors, and tells a compelling story about important conservation and research going on at the Zoo! 

We are currently recruiting Reptile Discovery Center interpreters, who will learn the natural history, conservation status, and Zoo management of the animals we have in that collection.  They will also get to know the individual histories of many of these animals and share all this information with visitors in a largely conversational manner.  There is no need for a background in biology or natural history—we’re looking for good storytellers who love to talk to visitors!

Special qualifications:
An interest in reptiles and amphibians, good communication skills, and the desire and ability to talk with a wide variety of people.  The Reptile Discovery Center exhibit is a “Must See!” for family visitors and a mostly indoor space, so volunteers should also have a tolerance for occasionally crowded conditions. 

Time Commitment: Volunteers are required to commit to a minimum of one year to be considered for an interpreter position. Interpreters are asked to work at least three 3-hour shifts a month for their first year. Shifts are available both weekdays and weekends from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers are also expected to attend monthly training meetings that are held in the evening and support exhibit-related special events. 

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

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 $30. Volunteers must also wear khaki pants/shorts of appropriate length/ or skirts (no jeans) and sturdy closed toe shoes (no flip flops or sandals).

Application and Background Check Process: Each program has an application and interview process. These positions are highly competitive and there are limited spaces 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 must schedule an interview, and those that are provisionally accepted must pass a Smithsonian background check which includes fingerprinting, as a requirement for approval as a keeper aide prior to beginning to volunteer.

Membership and Background Check Requirement: Upon successful completion of a Smithsonian background check and initial training, volunteers must become a FONZ member in their first year of volunteering, and pay the orientation/training fee of $30 (includes volunteer shirt and namebadge). 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.


Training: Trainings will be held on weekends and weekday evenings with four all-day sessions and three evening sessions).  Weekend training sessions will be held on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The weekday evening sessions will be on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

The training will begin on May 10th and end on June 7th.  You must be able to attend all the training dates.  (Please note: we will not hold class over Memorial Day weekend, or on the evening of Wednesday, May 14, so as to not conflict with ZooFari preparations.)

Revised Training Dates:

          • May 10 (Saturday) 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
        • May 17 (Saturday) 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
        • May 21 (Wednesday) 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
        • May 28 (Wednesday) 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
        • May 31 (Saturday) 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
        • June 4 (Wednesday) 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
        • June 7 (Saturday) 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Questions or to apply: For additional information and to request an application email us or call 202.633.3052. Candidates will be contacted to set up an interview time once they have sent in their completed application.  The application deadline is May 3.  


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.