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Volunteer

General Volunteer Info

Thank you for your interest in volunteering at the Houston Zoo! Volunteers support every department of the zoo including animal care, education, and guest services. Volunteering at the zoo is a serious commitment; adult volunteers serve for at least a year – some volunteers have been with us for a decade or more! Group volunteers donate their time for special projects on a one-time basis.

There are two types of volunteer opportunities:  Adult Volunteers and Group Volunteers


Adult Volunteers

Join the team of over 400 adult volunteers (18 and older) who contribute their time to help make the Zoo a great place to visit and to save animals in the wild! Our adult volunteers are provided training and support, invitation to special volunteer appreciation events, discounts on concessions and Zoo membership, and the opportunity to develop new skills and make new friends!

Some of the opportunities for adults to volunteer include:

Animal Encounters – helping staff supervise guest interactions at Giraffe Feeding and Children’s Zoo

Interpretation – educating guests about the individual animals here at the zoo and what we are doing to save them in the wild

Education Program Assistant – helping staff to help teach classes and lead activities

Guest Services – greeting guests, answering questions, and helping to ensure their day is amazing

Keeper Aide – volunteer alongside our keeper staff and assist with habitat cleaning, enrichment, diet preparation, and more!

Zoo Events – assisting staff with various conservation and community events throughout the year

Animal Handler – help our guests get up close and personal with one of our ambassador animals

How to apply:

We accept applications during our recruitment periods –  July and December

Approved applicants are contacted for a meet & greet with zoo staff and current volunteers at the end of the application period; a full day orientation is required if accepted

Accepted volunteers must complete and pass a criminal background check at their own cost of $37, with potential additional fees according to your address history (Additional Background Check Fees). Background checks for volunteers that have lived internationally within the last 7 years may also incur separate charges. T-shirts and name tags will be an additional $20 cost to you.

Requirements:

60 hour yearly commitment (an average of 5 hours per month)

Ability to communicate in English (additional language fluency is a plus!)

A negative TB test result is required for all incoming volunteers

We plan to next open our application for individual volunteering in December – thank you for the community support! Please check back for updates.

Group Volunteers

The Houston Zoo welcomes corporate, school, and other community groups to fulfill large project needs and connect with our mission. All group volunteers must be age 13 or older and at least one adult chaperone for every 10 volunteers under the age of 18 is required.

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Group volunteers are typically scheduled for projects/shifts lasting up to four hours. Zoo projects can accommodate a group size of 10-25, depending on the area. Please note that project availability is limited and must be pre-scheduled; requests should be received at least 30 days in advance. The exact project will vary due to the time of year and needs of the Zoo.

Come make a difference while learning about conservation and having fun! Volunteers must bring their own reusable water bottle.

Project Categories

  • Outdoors Labor Projects – Raking leaves, moving substrate (soil, sand, rocks, gravel), planting shrubs, flowers, etc. Most projects are outdoors and are only available on Sunday through Thursday mornings, based on project need.
  • Outdoors Special Events – Helping with event setup, greeting guests, facilitating craft and activity tables, cleanup etc.; activities will involve interacting with our Zoo guests so be ready to engage in conversation! Projects will typically run on Fridays-Sundays during Zoo hours (example:  Zoo Boo).

We are now accepting applications for group volunteer requests! If you are interested in Zoo Boo, the schedule and our availability is:

 

October 20  (Saturday) 10:15 AM-4:15 PM (Group of 5-10)

October 27  (Saturday) 10:15 AM-4:15 PM
October 14 (Sunday) 7:30 AM-12:30 PM (Groups of  5-10) or 10:15 AM-4:15 PM

October 28 (Sunday)  10:15 AM-4:15 PM (Groups of 5-15)

Please submit your request – we will reach out if we can place your group*:

*Note:  no group projects other than Zoo Boo will be scheduled in October


Teen Opportunities

Our Teen Programs are growing! Please visit the Teens webpage for new information:


Internships

The Houston Zoo offers unpaid internships for current or recent college students. Visit the Internship page for details:


 

Questions about our volunteer programs? Contact us at volunteer@houstonzoo.org

For all questions regarding teen programs, contact teenprograms@houstonzoo.org

Ann Kramer