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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Keeper Aide: Amazonia Horticulture

  • Amazonia rainforest exhibit

The Smithsonian's National Zoo's Amazonia exhibit leads visitors into the realm of the Amazon River Basin. More than 350 species of plants, including kapok, avocado and cocoa trees, tropical vines, and epiphytes, live in this enclosed tropical habitat. Amazonia is seeking horticulture keeper aides to assist Zoo staff in the gardening and care of plants in the Amazonia exhibit. Volunteers are needed to water and care for the Amazonia rainforest exhibit plants and other flora in and around the building, repot, move soil and aid in other plant maintenance as required.

Shifts are available Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Applicants must be able to volunteer at least one day each week for one year.

Age Range: 




Special qualifications: 

Applicants should enjoy hands-on gardening work and learning about plants, and should be comfortable working in the presence of birds, monkeys and other animals. Volunteers should be physically fit and willing to work in heat and humidity as some of our collection is exhibited in a greenhouse environment. Volunteers must be able to follow unit rules and supervisor instructions, be detail oriented and be able to work independently. Some experience in horticulture or gardening is preferred.


Once provisionally accepted, you must complete mandatory online orientation and training. Additional training will be provided on the job. There is a probationary period for all keeper aides.


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 by unit staff, and those who are provisionally accepted will undergo background checks, including fingerprinting, as a requirement for approval as a keeper aide. Once accepted, volunteers must submit proof of required vaccinations, including tetanus and a negative TB test, to the Zoo's health unit. Please note: It is Smithsonian's National Zoo's policy that individuals who keep venomous animals in personal collections will not be accepted as volunteer keeper aides.