The Saint Louis Zoo welcomes enthusiastic volunteers who have a love for animals and a passion for serving the people of our community. Zoo volunteers arrive from a diversity of backgrounds, and bring a variety of experience, knowledge and skill to the Zoo's operations. Of course, no prior experience is necessary -- we'll teach you what you need. Whether you have just a few hours each month to spare, or are looking for a new avenue in life, there is a home for you at the Zoo.

Volunteer Requirements

  • You must be at least 15 years of age.
  • You must offer a minimum of 30 hours of service per year
  • You must schedule an appointment with Volunteer Services by calling (314) 781-0900, ext. 4670
  • Attend required training (provided free of charge by the Zoo)

Volunteer Opportunities

Ambassadors

Volunteer ambassadors serve the public throughout the grounds providing basic information, directions, and Zoo history. On occasion, ambassadors assist with crowd control and special events.

  • Two day Information Volunteer Training
  • 2-3 hours of individual training provided by experienced volunteers
  • Monday-Sunday flexible hours

Docents

Docents, managed by the Zoo's Education Department, are volunteer teachers. They help visitors and school children learn about animals and the natural world by teaching classes at the Zoo and in the community, Interpreting animals and conservation to visitors on Zoo grounds and conducting educational tours.

  • Two day Information Volunteer Training and interview by the Docent Recruitment Committee
  • Docent training is required.
  • Docents must volunteer a minimum of 62 hours per year.

Events

Volunteer for Zoo, Zoo Friends and Young Zoo Friends fundraisers and other events.

  • One day Volunteer Orientation
  • On the job training
  • Contact Volunteer Services for event dates and times

Externships

A person seeking to obtain practical hands- on experience in the areas of animal management, education, or related field. Externs need not be currently enrolled in college/university, but prior college coursework is required. Externs will not receive college credit for this program.

  • One day Volunteer Orientation plus on the job training
  • Letter of intent describing background, interest, goals and availability. Current resume; current university/college transcript; two letters of reference (educational or business)
  • Externs are required to serve a minimum of 15 hours per week for a minimum of six weeks.

Gift Shops

Assist Zoo staff with operating cash registers, stocking merchandise and helping guests with their selection.

  • One day Volunteer Orientation
  • On the job training
  • Monday -- Sunday flexible hours scheduled with the staff person in charge.

Horticulture

Help the horticulture crew with planting, watering, weeding and mulching throughout zoo grounds.

  • One day Volunteer Orientation
  • On the job training
  • Monday through Friday flexible hours, as needed

Information Booth

Are you a people person? Meet and greet Zoo visitors. Providing directions within the Zoo and around St. Louis, dispensing maps and offering advice are just a part of this function.

  • Two day Information Volunteer Training
  • On the job training
  • Summer only. Morning and afternoon shifts available.

Insectarium

Educate visitors about the vertebrates and invertebrates.

  • One day Volunteer Orientation
  • On the job training
  • Monday-Sunday flexible hours consisting of 2 hour shifts

Internships

College/university student or recent graduate in the areas of biology, zoology, education, animal science, or related field receiving credit through their college or university under the direction of a faculty advisor, while obtaining practical hands-on work experience.

  • One day Volunteer Orientation, plus on the job training
  • Letter of intent describing background, interest, goals and availability. Current resume; current university/college transcript; two letters of reference (educational or business)
  • Interns are required to serve a minimum of 20 hours per week for a minimum of six weeks.

Tour Guides

Give guided walking tours to groups of 15 or more.

  • Two day Information Volunteer Training
  • Five weeks Tour Guide Training
  • Daytime tours as scheduled with groups from in town, out of town, schools, and businesses.

Zoo ALIVE Teen Volunteer Program

Zoo ALIVE volunteers are high school students who help with Camp KangaZoo during the summer, and many other education programs and activities throughout the year. They help lead crafts, games, and activities for children and Zoo visitors, while learning about animals and wildlife conservation through opportunities at the Zoo and beyond. Minimum age is 15 by June 2014.

  • One day of training/orientation required, May 31 or June 6, 2014.
  • A completed Zoo ALIVE Application packet. Applicants are interviewed on March 30, 2014, and selections are made in early April. Click the Zoo ALIVE heading for detailed information and a 2014 application packet.
  • Minimum one full year commitment. Required attendance at monthly meetings. Zoo ALIVE teens must volunteer at least twice per month, including two consecutive weeks at Camp KangaZoo in summer.

On Becoming a Zookeeper

If you're seriously interested in knowing what it takes to be a zookeeper, it's never too early to start preparing. See our section So You Want to be a Zookeeper? to find out how to prepare for a career in zoos, aquaria, and other wildlife organizations.