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Returning Zoo Crew

Returning Summer Zoo Crew

Returning teens who are back for a second (or third or fourth!) Zoo Crew program have a wider range of exciting options available to them, including the chance to work in animal care as a Junior Zookeeper, educate guests as a Naturalist, or continue to work with our Camp Zoofari program as a Camp Mentor.

Three Summer Options

Naturalist

Teens will educate zoo guests about our animals and conservation actions they can take to protect animals in the wild.

  • Participants must commit to three full weeks during the summer.
  • Schedule will be Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Camp Mentor

Assist with our Camp Zoofari summer camp for kids.

  • Duties will include assisting with teaching lessons and crafts, monitoring and managing camper behavior, and being a mentor and role model to campers.
  • Participants must commit to three full weeks during the summer.
  • Schedule will be Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Junior Zookeeper

Teens will assist zookeepers with daily care of our animals including feeding, cleaning, and observing.

  • Age requirements and schedule depend on the animal section they are selected to work in.
  • Participants must commit to three full weeks during the summer.

Options for teens with one summer and for teens with at least two summers of prior Zoo Crew experience are listed below.

Junior Zookeeper options for teens with at least one summer of prior Zoo Crew experience:

Aquarium Junior Zookeeper

Aquarium Junior Zookeepers will assist with daily operations including:

  • Animal collection identification and husbandry for the aquatic specimens in the Aquarium.
  • Exhibit maintenance in association with a zoo professional.
  • Construction of new exhibits with Aquarium staff.
  • Guest enrichment and interaction through lively educational opportunities in the Zoo public spaces.
  • Nutritional interactions with the animal collection in association with a zoo professional.

Schedule: Participants must commit to three weeks during the summer. You will work Monday-Friday 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Preferred Knowledge or Skills:

  • Ability to follow directions and listen well
  • Willingness to try new things
  • Hard work ethic

Birds Junior Zookeeper

In addition to learning about the husbandry of the animals in the Bird Department, Zoo Crew will learn about a variety of other subjects such as:

  • Natural history
  • Enrichment
  • Training
  • Animal observation
  • Conservation

Schedule: Participants must commit to three weeks during the summer. You will work Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Preferred Knowledge or Skills:

  • Ability to follow directions and listen well
  • Willingness to try new things
  • Hard work ethic

Children's Zoo Junior Zookeeper

Proof of a negative tuberculosis test (TB skin test) is required for this position.

The Children’s Zoo has a very diverse animal collection including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. If selected for our Zoo Crew program you will have a wide variety of opportunities and learning experiences that include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Knowledge and hands on application of animal husbandry (cleaning, feeding, etc.)
  • Knowledge and hands on application of our Enrichment program.
  • Experience with public speaking and giving formal/informal presentations
  • Knowledge/observation of operant conditioning approach to training.
  • Observation and hands on application of animal handling with our animal ambassador collection.

Please note: Most of your day will be spent helping keepers with cleaning of exhibits, washing of dishes/enrichment, and other physically demanding projects.

Schedule: Participants must commit to three weeks during the summer. You will work Monday-Friday starting at 7 a.m. each day.

Preferred knowledge or Skills:

  • Relative animal experience
  • Team oriented
  • Public speaking experience
  • Good listening skills
  • Responsible
  • Outgoing

Hoofed Stock Junior Zookeeper

Hoofed Stock Zoo Crew will be assisting with daily tasks throughout the department. This can include, but may not be limited to:

  • Animal husbandry; cleaning exhibits/holding areas, preparing diets, providing enrichment, and animal observation
  • Work projects; sweeping, raking, moving substrate, and organizing off exhibit areas
  • Ethogram observation and data collection
  • Guest interaction and keeper chats

Participants must commit to three weeks during the summer. You may be scheduled weekdays and weekends 7 a.m. – 4 p.m., however, during some weeks you many not be scheduled for a full week depending on Hoofed Stock staff availability. Please indicate all your available weeks on your application.

Preferred Knowledge or Skills:

  • Safety conscious
  • Willingness to try new things
  • Hard work ethic

Junior Horticulturist

Zoo Crew will assist the Horticulture staff in all areas of the zoo, while learning about general plant care and the interaction between plants and animals. Tasks vary widely depending on weather and support for other departments, however, a few of the tasks that can be expected are:

  • Mulching
  • Weeding
  • Pruning
  • Planting

There are several specialty areas of horticulture that Zoo Crew will have an opportunity to learn about, including care of the living wall, topiaries, carnivorous plants, pollinator gardening, greenhouse and nursery plant care, container plantings, and browse for the animal departments.

Participants must commit to three weeks during the summer. You will be scheduled weekdays 6 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., however, during some weeks you many not be scheduled for a full week depending on Horticulture staff availability. Please indicate all your available weeks on your application.

Preferred Knowledge or Skills:

  • Safety conscious
  • Willingness to try new things
  • Hard work ethic

Additional Junior Zookeeper options if you have at least two summers of prior Zoo Crew experience:

Elephants Junior Zookeeper

Proof of negative tuberculosis (TB skin test) is required for this position.

Zoo Crew in the Elephant Department will assist Elephant staff with daily operations, including but not limited to cleaning and diet preparation. Zoo Crew should be prepared for:

  • Spending the majority of the day in extreme weather, especially heat/humidity.
  • Strenuous physical labor including raking, shoveling, sweeping, and hosing, at times exceeding 1 hour.
  • Learning basic information about elephants and elephant husbandry.
  • Helping to create enrichment items and putting them in yards/barns.
  • Observing and taking notes on elephant behavior.
  • Interaction with zoo guests.

Due to the nature of working around wild animals, Zoo Crew will have limited interaction with elephants over the course of their program. Zoo Crew exhibiting situational awareness, good judgment, and good work ethic may earn the opportunity to interact with elephants at end of their program commitment, with staff permission.

Schedule: Participants must commit to three weeks during the summer. You will work Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Preferred Knowledge or Skills:

  • Experience with hard physical labor is ideal (mucking out barn stalls, 4H, etc).
  • Able to take instruction.
  • Ability to work independently once provided with instruction.

Herpetology Junior Zookeeper

Zoo Crew in the Herpetology Department will learn about and participate in the husbandry of various reptiles and amphibians. Zoo Crew will learn and follow all safety protocols. Things that Zoo Crew may participate in are:

  • Cleaning exhibits and reserve enclosures
  • Some handling of reptiles (nonvenomous only)
  • Some handling of amphibians
  • Feeding animals
  • Basic water quality of amphibians
  • Getting substrate and props for new exhibits
  • Lots of cleaning and dish washing
  • Care of feeder animals
  • Collecting fecal samples

The Herpetology Department contains many potentially dangerous animals (none of which Zoo Crew will be working with) but they are in the building so extreme care must be taken at all times.

Schedule: Participants must commit to three weeks during the summer. You will work Monday-Friday 7 a.m. – 4 p.m., however, during some weeks you many not be scheduled for a full week depending on Herpetology staff availability. Please indicate all your available weeks on your application.

Preferred Knowledge or Skills

  • Enthusiasm and strong interest in learning about the care of reptiles and amphibians
  • Serious attitude toward safety
  • Basic animal care knowledge is appreciated, but not required

Natural Encounters Junior Zookeeper

Natural Encounters Zoo Crew will learn and assist keepers in daily husbandry duties. Which include:

  • Cleaning animal holding areas and exhibits. This task requires moving in and around animal furniture and propping.
  • Diet preparation
  • Assisting and creating stimulating enrichment
  • Various projects: Propping, substrate changes, assembling animal related furniture and/or painting.
  • Assist with daily animal observations
  • Help with keeper chats and ensure great guest experiences

Schedule: Participants must commit to three weeks during the summer. You may be scheduled weekdays and weekends 7 a.m. – 4 p.m., however, during some weeks you many not be scheduled for a full week depending on Natural Encounters staff availability. Please indicate all your available weeks on your application.

Preferred Knowledge or Skills:

  • Safety conscious
  • Willingness to try new things
  • Hard work ethic

Primates Junior Zookeeper

Primates Junior Zookeepers will work shadow primate keepers. They will assist keepers with the following tasks:

  • Cleaning cages
  • Observing training
  • Helping to create daily enrichment.
  • Assisting with animal behavior observations

Participants must be able to commit to three weeks during the summer. You will be scheduled Monday-Friday 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Preferred Knowledge or Skills

  • At least 1 summer of experience in another Junior Zookeeper position
  • Ability to follow direction and listen well
  • Strong animal observation skills and awareness of safety around dangerous animals

Sea Lions Junior Zookeeper

Zoo Crew in the Sea Lion Department will assist Sea Lion staff with daily operations, including but not limited to cleaning and diet preparation.

Schedule: Participants must be able to commit to three consecutive weeks during the summer. You will be scheduled Monday-Friday 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Preferred Knowledge or Skills:

  • Previous experience in animal care
  • Knowledge of Houston Zoo Take Action Initiatives and Conservation programs
  • Willingness to learn operant conditioning basics
  • Team-oriented
  • Familiarity with interpretation and guest service

Returning Zoo Crew Program Fees

  • Summer only: $150
  • Year-Round: additional $200

Applications

Applications are now closed. For other opportunities to get involved with the Houston Zoo check out our Camp Zoofari summer camp.

Interviews

Interviews for Junior Zookeeper positions will be held on April 11, 2020.  If you are applying for a Camp Mentor or Naturalist position, you do not need to interview.

International Travel Opportunity

Borneo

July 20-31, 2020

The Houston Zoo Teen Programs will be traveling to Borneo to connect with our wildlife saving partners from the Danau Girang Field Centre and HUTAN. Teens must be current members of Zoo Crew and 15 years old by July 20th to participate.

Trip cost: $1455 (includes all activities, meals, lodging) + Airfare from Houston to Sandakan ($1500-1800)

 

Unable to attend our information sessions? Information from the 2020 information sessions will be posted here. Check back in January.

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

Adventure Programs

Questions? Email us at teenprograms@houstonzoo.org or call us at 713-533-6567