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Small Mammal House Education Interpreters

  • Naked mole-rats in their new home.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is recruiting for volunteers to serve as interpreters in the Small Mammal House, home to over thirty unique mammal species including golden lion tamarins, sloths and naked mole-rats. Interpreters are front-line educators who play a central role in enhancing the experience of Zoo guests by sharing animal and conservation stories, answering questions and engaging guests with biological objects and artifacts.

Interpreters will learn about natural history, conservation, the work that goes into caring for each Small Mammal House species, and the tools and techniques needed to communicate effectively with guests. Please note that volunteers do not have direct contact or interaction with exhibit species.

Time commitment: Volunteers must be able to commit to at least one year interpreting at the Small Mammal House. Volunteers are scheduled for three, 3-hour shifts each month, and are asked to participate in monthly evening meetings and assist with occasional special events. Volunteer shifts occur seven days a week, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4p.m.

Age Range: 




Special qualifications: 

Candidates should have a strong interest in Small Mammal House species and the National Zoo, as well as the desire and ability to speak with a diverse audience of guests. Small Mammal House is a popular exhibit for family visitors, so volunteers should also have a tolerance for occasionally crowded conditions.


Training consists of both classroom and online sessions beginning in early February. You must be able to attend all four of the in-person training dates: 

  • Weekday (evenings): Tuesday, February 12 and Thursday, February 21  
  • Weekends (full day): Saturday, February 2 and Sunday, February 24


Washington DC





Contact phone: 


Additional information: 

If accepted into the program, volunteers must pass a Smithsonian background check, complete training, become a FONZ member in their first year of volunteering, and pay an orientation fee which covers the cost of a polo shirt and name badge. 

*Options are available for individuals for whom the fees and membership may not be manageable.