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.

Share this page:

Education Interpreters at Reptile Discovery Center

  • Lizard resting on the grass with its legs outstretched

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is currently recruiting volunteers to serve as education interpreters at the Reptile Discovery Center (RDC), home to the iconic Komodo dragon as well as turtles, snakes, crocodiles, lizards and even a few amphibians. The exhibit is a popular destination for Zoo visitors, and families love to visit and learn about the animals in the collection.

Interpreters play an important role in enhancing the experience of Zoo visitors by introducing them to the Zoo’s reptiles and amphibians, sharing animal and conservation stories, answering questions and engaging visitors in activities using biological objects and artifacts.

Education Interpreters will learn about the animals at RDC, including their natural history, ecology and species conservation stories, as well as the conservation work of Smithsonian animal care staff and researchers, so that they can share this information with visitors through conversations.

Volunteers must be able to commit to three 3-hour shifts each month for at least one year. Shifts are available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Days of the week are flexible. Volunteers are also asked to attend monthly evening meetings and support exhibit-related special events.
Age Range: 




Special qualifications: 

A strong interest and ability to speak with a wide variety of people, as well as the desire to learn about the exhibit's species and the Smithsonian's National Zoo. The Reptile Discovery Center is virtually all indoors, and the animals within it prefer a warmer environment, so volunteers should be comfortable walking and working in summery conditions.


The training combines both classroom and online training sessions beginning in October. Two concurrent training sessions will be offered, one for weekday volunteers and one for weekend volunteers.  You must be able to attend all of the in-person training dates.

Weekday volunteer training dates: three afternoon sessions on Nov. 1, Nov. 15 and Nov. 29
Weekend volunteer training dates: two full-day sessions on Oct. 29 and Dec. 3


Washington DC





Contact phone: 


Additional information: 

This position has an application and interview process. Once accepted, volunteers must pass a Smithsonian background check, complete initial training, become a FONZ member in their first year of volunteering and pay the orientation/training fee* (includes volunteer shirt and name badge).

* Options are available for individuals for whom the fees and membership may not be manageable.