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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Education Interpreters: Asia Trail

  • clouded leopard

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is seeking volunteers to serve as education interpreters on Asia Trail, home to the iconic giant pandas as well as sloth bears, red pandas, Asian small-clawed otters, fishing cats and clouded leopards. The exhibit is a popular destination for Zoo visitors, and families love to visit and learn about the animals along the trail.

Education interpreters play an important role in enhancing the experience of Zoo visitors by interacting with the public, answering questions and sharing objects or artifacts such as animal skulls, pelts and other items. Education interpreters speak with visitors about the animals, their natural history, ecology, conservation issues affecting them today and how to save species — creating a more interesting and enjoyable experience for our visitors.

Volunteers do not have direct contact or interaction with any animals.

Age Range: 




Special qualifications: 

A strong interest in the species on Asia Trail and the Zoo, as well as the desire and ability to speak with a wide variety of people. Asia Trail is virtually all outdoors, so volunteers should be comfortable walking and working in a range of weather conditions. In order to be considered, you must be able to make a year’s commitment to the program, and must be able to commit to three 3-hour shifts each month. This program runs year-round. Days of the week are flexible. Shift times are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. You must also be able to attend monthly evening meetings and support exhibit-related special events.


Training for this program is comprised of both classroom and online sessions. Volunteers must be able to attend all four in-person training dates: 

  • Sunday, Nov. 3, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 13, from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 23, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

During training, volunteers will learn about the species along Asia Trail, the individual histories of the animals, conservation efforts and Zoo management of exhibit species. Volunteers will also learn techniques for sharing this information with visitors in a largely conversational manner.


Washington DC





Contact phone: 


Additional information: 

Each program has an application and interview process. Once accepted, volunteers must pass a Smithsonian background check, complete initial training and become a FONZ member in their first year of volunteering. Options are available for individuals for whom membership may not be manageable; please talk to the program's supervisor for available options.