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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Zoo Guides

  • zoo guide presenting in front of teenagers

Zoo Guides offer insight into the animal world with engaging stories, interesting facts and animal observations. Zoo Guides learn to give tours to visitors, new employees and volunteers. The Highlights Tour gives visitors a broad overview of the entire Smithsonian's National Zoo and the work being done to save species. The Children’s Tour introduces young children and their parents to animal adaptations in a classroom setting followed by an interactive tour designed especially for them. A shorter, more focused, tour of the upper zoo takes groups around the Cheetah Conservation Station and Asia Trail and includes a stop at the new Elephant Community Center. 

Because of the breadth of their knowledge, Zoo Guides may also be asked to lead special request tours. When no tours are scheduled, Zoo Guides act as education interpreters for a variety of outdoor areas around the Zoo, including Great Cats Circle, American bison and Andean bears.

Zoo guides must be able to commit to three, three-hour shifts on three weekdays per month for a minimum of one year. Shifts are available Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Weekend shifts are currently full.

Age Range: 




Special qualifications: 

A broad interest in the Zoo and its mission, an interest and ability to manage groups, and a willingness to walk the Zoo outdoors for two hours at a time year-round.


Volunteers must be able to attend all eight weekday trainings in February and March. Some online training is also required.

Trainings are held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the following dates: February 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, and March 1 and 2.


Washington DC





Contact phone: 


Additional information: 

Zoo Guide positions are competitive and there are limited spaces available. Submission of an application is not a guarantee of placement. The Smithsonian Institution and FONZ are committed to providing the safest environment for our staff and volunteers, as well as for our guests. Applicants will be interviewed by staff and those who are provisionally accepted must pass a Smithsonian background check which includes fingerprinting.