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: Small Mammal House

  • Golden Lion Tamarin on a branch

The Smithsonian's National Zoo’s Small Mammal House is home to diverse and exciting species such as golden lion tamarins, armadillos, porcupines and naked mole-rats. Keeper Aide volunteers help animal care staff prepare food, clean enclosures, care for plants in the exhibits and create enrichment.

New volunteers must be able to commit to at least one shift per week for a minimum of one year. Available shifts are from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday or Friday.

Age Range: 




Special qualifications: 

An interest in the exhibit species is a must. Some animal care experience is strongly preferred but not required. Please note that volunteers do not have direct contact with the animals. Volunteers should be comfortable maneuvering exhibits with cleaning materials and handling food and enrichment items.


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 before completing the onboarding process.


Washington DC




Zoo Support

Contact phone: 


Additional information: 

Select applicants will be interviewed by 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 tetanus and a negative TB test, to the Zoo's health unit.