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First Year Zoo Crew Explorers

Teens, ages 13-17, participating in Zoo Crew for the first time have the opportunity to explore everything that the Houston Zoo does to save animals in the wild.

From zookeepers, to groundskeepers, to our marketing department, Zoo Crew Explorers will learn about all the different career possibilities and how each of our staff members are active in saving wildlife. They will also have the opportunity learn and practice their interpretation skills to share our animal saving messages with Zoo guests.

Dates and Times

The Zoo Crew Explorers program is a four-week summer program. All first-year teens, regardless of age, must complete a summer of Zoo Crew Explorers before they are able to participate in our year-round programming.

Zoo Crew Explorers summer dates are broken into four sessions. Check back in December for details on the 2023 session dates.

All four weeks of each session are Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Each week, Zoo Crew Explorers will be learning about different aspects of the zoo and conservation field. They will spend time learning about what is wildlife conservation and the Houston Zoo’s wildlife-saving initiatives. They will also learn about the variety of careers in the zoo field by meeting with professionals throughout the organization. They will spend a week as a Camp Mentor, mentoring the young kids in our Camp Zoofari summer camp, and a week as a Naturalist in which they will educate guests of the Zoo about our animals and ways they can take action to save them in the wild.

To participate, teens must be 13 years old by the start of the program on May 30th regardless of the session and they cannot turn 18 before the end of their selected session.

Applications and Interviews


Applications for 2022 are now closed. Check back in January 2023 for next year’s applications.


Interviews will be held in-person on April 2nd and 9th. If selected for an interview, applicants will be able to sign up for a timeslot that works with their schedule.

All applicants will be notified of acceptance by the end of April.


  • Orientation will be held virtually via Zoom
  • Both Zoo Crew and parents/guardians must attend
  • Check back in December for 2023 orientation dates

Zoo Crew Explorers Program Fees

  • Summer only: $250
  • Year-round: additional $200

Once first-year teens have completed the Zoo Crew Explorers program they are eligible to continue their experience in our year-round Zoo Crew programs.

Year-Round Zoo Crew

Meet the Teen Programs Supervisor- Colleen Cavanaugh

Colleen has been with the Houston Zoo since 2016. With her undergraduate degree in Wildlife Conservation and her graduate degree in Environmental Education, Colleen is passionate about cultivating the next generation of conservation heroes, connecting teens to nature, and inspiring them to take action to save wildlife within their own community.

Information Session

2022 Zoo Crew Explorers Information Session

Unable to attend our information sessions? You can view a recording above.

Check out our Adventure Programs for more ways for teens to get involved with the Houston Zoo!

Adventure Programs

Questions? Email us at or call us at 713-533-6567