Volunteers should be physically fit and willing to work in all types of weather. Keeper Aides should be interested in learning about and caring for a variety of animals. You can select the area or programs you want to apply to join. Please note: per our policy, if an applicant is accepted to more than one program, the applicant will need to select his/her first choice and will not be able to join another program for at least six months. For all of these areas, some animal care experience is preferred but not required. Applicants must be at least 18 years old to apply, and at least 21 for the Great Cats and Primates programs.
Once accepted, new volunteers must complete online orientation training. Additional training will be provided on the job. There is a probationary period for keeper aides.
The Smithsonian Institution and Friends of the National Zoo are committed to providing the safest environment for our staff and volunteers, as well as for our guests. Applicants will be interviewed by keeper staff, and those who are provisionally accepted will have background checks conducted, including fingerprinting, as a requirement for approval as a keeper aide. In addition, all volunteers are required to be members of Friends of the National Zoo. It is the Smithsonian's National Zoo's policy that Keeper Aides may not keep venomous animals in personal collections.