Each volunteer opportunity has an application and interview process. Please submit your application as outlined in the position description. If accepted, full-time volunteers must pass a Smithsonian background check, complete initial training, become a FONZ member in their first year of volunteering (volunteers receive a 25% discount on FONZ memberships), and pay the orientation/training fee.*
Please be aware that some Zoo support positions may also require proof of certain vaccinations.
*Current fees are $20 for Zoo support positions and $30 for education/behavior watch positions (fee includes volunteer shirt and name badge). Options are available for individuals for whom the fees and membership may not be manageable; please speak to the contact person listed for the position you are interested in for available options.
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to apply for most positions, including keeper aides, behavior watchers, education interpreters, and some special events.
During the summer months, there is a volunteer program for teens, ages 13 and up. An interest in animals and conservation is a must.
Most volunteer programs require at least a 1-year commitment due to the extensive training required. Keeper aides are required to do one full-day shift or one half-day shift each week for the year. Other programs, including education interpreters, require a set number of shifts per month. Please see each position posting for information on requirements for that particular program.
Short-term opportunities are available assisting with special events and office projects as they arise.
Benefits of Volunteering
Volunteers have the opportunity to learn about animals and help educate the public about conservation and animal care. Other benefits include:
- Free parking while at the Zoo for volunteer shifts
- Discounts at Zoo gift shops
- Discounts at Mane Grill and food locations with a cash register
- Select FONZ event tickets available at the reduced member price
- Use of the FONZ library and volunteer lounge/kitchen
- A discount when joining FONZ
- Invitations to annual volunteer appreciation events
- Supplemental accident insurance for out-of-pocket medical expenses for injuries that occurred while volunteering
- Free membership in the Volunteer Association at the Smithsonian's National Zoo