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:

Keeper Aide: Department of Nutrition Science

  • giant panda

The Commissary at the Smithsonian's National Zoo is responsible for preparing food for all animals, 365 days a year. In addition, the Commissary is also responsible for procuring bamboo and other browse material, and distributing food and animal bedding across the park.

Volunteers are needed to help with diet preparation and receiving and storing animal food items. This position can also involve cleaning and/or organizing storage areas, restocking supplies, dish washing and laundry, as needed. There is no animal contact with this position.

Shifts are available on Fridays and Saturdays.  Volunteers must be able to commit to one day per week for the  for a minimum of one year. Shifts are four hours long and can start any time between 7 and 9 a.m.

Age Range: 




Special qualifications: 

Volunteers should be physically fit and willing to work in all types of weather. Some animal care or food service experience is preferred but not required. Applicants pursuing a degree in the biological sciences are preferred, but no formal degree or training is required.


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 keeper 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.