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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Tour Guide

  • aerial view of SCBI campus

Friends of the National Zoo's department of education and volunteer services is currently recruiting volunteer tour guides for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Tour guides welcome guests to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, share stories and in-depth exchanges during tours to showcase the innovate research being done to save species, and support special events on evenings and some weekends. Volunteers will be trained to provide guided tours and taught interpretative techniques, including interacting with guests, giving talks and educating guests about a myriad of conservation issues. Because of the breadth of their knowledge, tour guides may also be asked to lead special VIP tours.

Tours are offered Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Volunteers must be able to commit to at least one day per week and attend bi-monthly meetings for a minimum of one year.

Age Range: 




Special qualifications: 

Applicants should have a broad interest in SCBI and its mission, an ability to manage groups and be at ease driving a 15-passenger van on unimproved roads for two hours at a time. Volunteers should also be comfortable communicating with the public about conservation issues in a positive and rewarding learning environment. People skills and public speaking experience are preferred but not required.


Once provisionally accepted, volunteers must complete a mandatory 15-passenger driving test and attend four weekday training sessions in March 2018.


Front Royal





Contact phone: 


Additional information: 

Tour guide positions are highly competitive, and there are limited spaces available. Submission of an application is not a guarantee of placement. Staff will interview applicants, and those who are provisionally accepted must pass a Smithsonian background check, which includes fingerprinting, as well as a 15-passenger van driving test, as requirements for approval as a volunteer tour guide.