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: SCBI Bird Unit

  • loggerhead shrike

The Friends of the National Zoo's Department of Education and Volunteer Services is currently recruiting bird unit Behavior Watch volunteers for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute located in Front Royal, Virginia. Behavior Watch volunteers assist SCBI staff in conducting data collection for our animal care team. This data informs our team's goals for excellent animal care and helps to save these species in the wild.

There is a one-year minimum commitment for Behavior Watchers. Shifts are 3 hours. Time slots are on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and every other weekend.

Age Range: 




Special qualifications: 

Volunteers should have an interest in animal care and conservation, be detail oriented, have good observation skills, and be willing to work in all types of weather, as most watches will occur in a humid indoor building or in an outdoor observation blind.


All volunteers will attend a general training session to orient them to SCBI and behavior watching in general. Volunteers also attend a training session for the particular watch to which they are assigned. This training will include the specific policies, procedures and protocols for that watch. Additionally, there will be mandatory online training.


Front Royal




Zoo Support

Contact phone: 


Additional information: 

In an effort to protect human health and the health of the animal collection, Behavior Watch volunteers are required to meet strict health standards. Prior to starting at SCBI, volunteers must provide documentation of current tetanus vaccination as well as negative TB testing within the past six months. In addition, an annual seasonal influenza vaccination is also required.

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 volunteer.