The zoo is open! All visitors will require free entry passes and be required to follow safety measures. Free timed-entry Asia Trail/Panda Passes are required for the giant panda viewing.

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Behavior Watch

  • A Behavior Watch Volunteer records data on an elephant

Volunteers in the Behavior Watch program at the Smithsonian's National Zoo staff a number of different animal behavior watches. The Zoo is currently seeking volunteers to assist with camera operation and data collection. Behavior watch assignments may be located inside or outside.

Volunteers must be able to commit to one shift per week for a minimum of one year. Shifts last between one and three hours and are available on any day of the week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or, in some cases, during the night.
Age Range: 




Special qualifications: 

Applicants should be reliable, detail oriented, able to follow complicated directions, comfortable with technical machinery and willing to ask questions.


Once provisionally accepted, volunteers must complete mandatory online orientation and training. Additional training will depend on the behavior watch assignment. There is a probationary period for all behavior watch volunteers.

Training dates will be set in June or early July and total between four and eight hours, depending on the assignment.


Washington DC




Zoo Support

Contact phone: 


Additional information: 

These positions are highly competitive, and there are limited spaces available. Submission of an application is not a guarantee of placement. Applicants will be interviewed, and those who are provisionally accepted will undergo background checks, including fingerprinting, as a requirement for approval.