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Keeper Aide: Pathology Lab

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The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is seeking volunteers to assist in the Zoo's state-of-the-art pathology lab. Pathology staff direct and conduct animal necropsies, examine the clinical samples (blood, tissue, urine, feces, etc.) submitted by veterinarians and review microscopic slides (histology) of the tissue samples submitted as biopsy or those obtained during necropsy examinations.

Volunteer duties include, but are not limited to: archiving histology slides and tissue blocks, managing digital files, cleaning and restocking necropsy supplies, tissue bagging, filing and completing special pathology projects. Volunteers will assist with necropsy setups and breakdowns and may have the opportunity to participate in necropsies, if interested. Please note that this position may not be well suited for applicants who are sensitive to the sight and smell of animal necropsies.

Volunteers must be able to commit to at least one shift per week for a minimum of one year. Available days are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Volunteer shift times are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Age Range: 




Special qualifications: 

Applicants studying biological sciences, animal science or veterinary medicine are preferred, but no formal degree or training is required.


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.


Washington DC




Zoo Support

Contact phone: 


Additional information: 

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. Once accepted, volunteers must submit proof of required vaccinations (including a negative TB test and tetanus) to the Zoo's health unit.

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