red panda
Bring Back Bison

Let's bring bison back to our Zoo!

Currently Recruiting For . .

The National Zoo is currently accepting applications for Special Event Volunteers for our Easter Monday event 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: Easter Monday-A Washington Family Tradition on Monday, April 21

This year's Easter Monday event will include a traditional Easter Egg Hunt, animal demonstrations, and visits from the Easter Panda! FONZ is actively recruiting volunteers to assist with our Egg Hunt, which is one of the most popular activites of Easter Monday. We may have additional opportunities arise for this event, so keep checking back! 

Special Qualifications: Egg hunt volunteers must be friendly, enjoy interacting with families with small children, as well as comfortable assisting with hunting and replacing eggs as necessary which requires frequent bending over.

Time Commitment:
 Because we anticipate a large number of guests, there will be two shifts, one from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and one from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. You may sign up for one shift or both! 

Morning shift —9:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Afternoon shift —12:45 – 4:00 p.m. 

PLEASE NOTE: If we are lucky enough to have good weather there will be large crowds in the zoo making parking extremely limited both at the zoo and in the surrounding neighborhoods. Taking Metro is the best option, however if you are planning on driving to the zoo, we recommend that you opt for a morning shift only. 

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. 

Uniform Requirement: Current volunteers should wear their red Zoo volunteer uniform shirt and khaki pants/skirts. First time volunteers should wear a plain red or white top and khaki pants/skirts. No jeans please. A name tag (if you do not already have one) will be provided when you check in. Please be sure to dress for the unpredictible Washington DC weather!


Training: On the job.

Questions or to apply:
For additional information and to request an application email us or call 202.633.3057. Confirmation information along with additional details will be sent once a completed application is received and you have been scheduled.

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).  The first day of training will be on Sunday, May 4th, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; all other weekend training will be held on Saturdays during the day.  The weekday evening sessions will be on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

The training will begin on May 4th and ending on May 31st.  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.)

    Training Dates:
      • May 4 (SUNDAY!) 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

      • May 7 (Wednesday) 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

      • 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.

    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 April 23rd.  


    Upcoming Recruiting:

    Check back frequently! We will be posting information about Zoofari volunteer recruitment soon! 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.