- Are you looking for a way to give back to the Saint Louis community?
- Do you have a passion for sharing the Zoo’s mission to protect the world’s animals and preserve natural places?
- Are you looking for a flexible, fun and engaging volunteer opportunity?
- Simply put! Is the Zoo your happy place?
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 come from a wide variety 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 to know. 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.
Volunteers support the Zoo’s mission by educating visitors, assisting with wayfinding around the Zoo, helping with special events and participating in countless other programs. Each year, our volunteers contribute over 100,000 hours of service, for which we are incredibly thankful. Click on the opportunities below to see which is right for you.
- Represent and share the Zoo’s mission by encouraging the support and enriching the experience of our visitors.
- Be at least 18 years of age (See Teen Programs for ages 15-18 below).
- Commit to volunteering for at least one year.
- Give a minimum of 30 hours of service per year.
- Submit a formal application and pass a background screen check. These materials will be provided to you via email after an initial introductory phone call. You will bring your application materials and background check form(s) with you when you interview.
- Attend a 30 minute interview and required trainings (provided free of charge by the Zoo).
- All volunteers will participate in a one-day Volunteer Orientation. Orientations are held in the early spring, summer and fall.
- Additional training may be required based on program interest.
Steps to Become a Volunteer
All volunteer applications and interviews are currently on hold. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
- Browse our volunteer program descriptions.
- Give us a call at (314) 646-4661. The Volunteer Services department is happy to share more information on program details, upcoming training opportunities and requirements, and learn how you would like to contribute to the Zoo’s mission.
- Schedule an interview with Volunteer Services by calling (314) 646-4661.
- Attend required trainings.
Ambassadors make the Saint Louis Zoo the friendliest place in town! As an Ambassador volunteer, you will serve the public throughout grounds by providing essential visitor information, and giving recommendations to the Zoo’s award-winning exhibits, amenities and unique attractions. Ambassadors can also be trained to share the Zoo’s over 100-year history!
“Being an Ambassador is so awesome! We are the meet and greet arm of the Zoo. It is so interesting meeting people from all over the country- and even the world. Visitors appreciate our help in giving directions to animals, buildings and attractions. Ambassador hours are super flexible- come any day and stay however long you want. Work in one spot giving directions or roam the Zoo helping people. If you are someone who enjoys people, loves the Zoo and has a busy life; being an Ambassador is a great fit for you!” – Sue, Ambassador Volunteer
Spend your days in a tropical paradise! The Saint Louis Zoo's Bayer Insectarium Mary Ann Lee Butterfly Wing is a geodesic dome filled with tropical plants, rock outcroppings, a waterfall and pool. As a Butterfly Wing volunteer, you will help to keep butterflies safe and interact with guests to further their appreciation for our invertebrate and plant species. Volunteers can choose their own 2-hour shifts Monday through Sunday. Volunteers have the option to sit or stand.
For 50 years, the Saint Louis Zoo has offered a special area just for its youngest visitors to connect with nature. The goal today is the same as in 1969 — to provide dynamic experiences for all children that will inspire a love of animals and learning. Volunteers in the Children’s Zoo help staff achieve these goals by providing outstanding visitor engagement opportunities in the goat yard, guinea pig pen and animal interactive area; and by preparing animal diets in the CZ kitchen.
Volunteers can have the opportunity to be trained to handle small ambassador animals once the hourly service requirement of one month is met. A weekly three-hour shift and additional and ongoing training is required.
Do you love animals and people? Are you passionate about wildlife and their habitats? Would you like to be a part of the Saint Louis Zoo's efforts to help our visitors and the greater community understand and appreciate nature? Then you might want to consider becoming a Saint Louis Zoo docent.
Docents, managed by the Zoo's Education Department, are volunteer educators. They engage with Zoo guests about animals and the natural world through leading school classes and tours at the Zoo and in the community, and sharing our Zoo stories about animals and conservation out on our Zoo grounds. A weekly three-hour shift, eight Saturdays of initial training, and ongoing training is required. Docents are asked to commit a minimum of 62 hours of support per year to the Zoo. Click here for more information.
“Working with our Education Volunteers, Docents, is such fun. Every day I have the privilege of getting to know these wonderful and dedicated group of people who are funny, smart, and great team members.” - Hannah Petri, Docent & Interpretation Manager
The Zoo hosts events and fundraisers throughout the year that require hundreds of volunteers. Event volunteers help with everything from greeting visitors, engaging families and children with creative games and crafts, to assisting food and drink vendors as bar backs. Contact Volunteer Services at firstname.lastname@example.org for group volunteer opportunities, and upcoming event dates and times.
“Volunteers make our department run smooth and efficiently on event days. They act as extensions of our team and help us ensure that our events run as effortlessly as possible. As a small department, we simply could not execute our events without volunteers! Their dedication and passion is unmatched! They care so strongly about our Zoo and our mission that their joy is contagious!” – Special Events Department
- Click here to sign up to receive event volunteer recruitment emails all year-round.
- You do not have to attend new Volunteer Orientation to assist as an event volunteer.
Help visitors take a piece of the Zoo home! As a Safari Gift Shop volunteer, you will assist Zoo staff with greeting customers, stocking merchandise and helping guests with their selections. With a wide variety of handcrafted items that help to fund conservation efforts, to jewelry, Zoo apparel and plush toys, our volunteers ensure visitors find the perfect souvenir or gift for any occasion. Volunteers work with gift shop staff to choose their own shifts with a Monday through Sunday schedule.
“Volunteers make a difference in the Gift Shop because they provide the “icing on the cake.” Staff can do the basics but the Volunteers come in and assist with all the details in the stores. It truly takes a team, and they are a very important part of our team! They bring so much diversity to the Zoo, and these different perspectives are so important to the overall Zoo experience. They help make us one of the best Zoos in the world!” – Tommy Brown, Retail Manager
Is your organization or group looking for a fun and rewarding service project? Opportunities and availability vary based on Zoo needs, but may include special events, event preparations, gardening, and other projects.
- The Zoo cannot guarantee volunteer placement. Volunteer opportunities and availability vary based on Zoo needs.
- Volunteer activities are designed for groups of 10-25 people, and typically take 2-3 hours.
- All volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and must be members of your group/organization.
- There are no opportunities to work with animals.
- A list of participants must be sent to the Zoo at least 1 week in advance of the activity.
- Each participant will need to complete a volunteer emergency contact and waiver form.
- In the event of inclement weather, the Zoo will attempt to reschedule your volunteer day but cannot guarantee this will be possible.
Please complete the inquiry form at least 8 weeks in advance of your requested service date. Upon submission of the form, Zoo staff will reach out to you regarding volunteer opportunities.
Join the ranks of our knowledgeable and welcoming volunteers at the Saint Louis Zoo! Located in the center of the Zoo’s campus in Schnuck Family Plaza, the Guest Relations Booth is the information hub, helping visitors get the most out of their day at the Zoo. Working alongside a Guest Services employee, Guest Relations Booth volunteers greet Zoo visitors, provide directions, answer the Zoo’s information phone line, and enhance visitor experience of the Zoo and Saint Louis.
We ask that our Guest Relations Booth Volunteers have at least one year of Zoo volunteer experience, problem solving skills, and a passion for sharing information on our amenities and unique attractions. 3.5 hours shifts in the morning and afternoon are available March-October. Volunteers have the option to sit or stand.
“Volunteers in the Guest Relations Booth partner with Zoo employees to provide answers pertaining to the Zoo and the local area. Their impact and good will can be felt throughout the St. Louis community. When a visitor has a question or needs directions, they come to Guest Relations. Between the volunteer and employee, we can answer anything!” - Vincent Correnti, Assistant Manager, Guest Relations
The Saint Louis Zoo provides college students, recent graduates and individuals with prior college coursework an opportunity to learn about the Zoo's zoological operations while obtaining valuable, hands-on work experience and an understanding of the Zoo's role in research and conservation.
Internships and externships are available in:
- Animal Management Areas
- Non-Animal Related Areas
Over 30 departments to choose from!
Visit our Internships and Externships page to learn more and apply to become a Saint Louis Zoo intern or extern today!
Share in the St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Zoo’s commitment to the health and well-being of children and families in our community as a First Aid volunteer. Greet and provide nonmedical assistance to visitors as they utilize the Zoo’s family restroom, lactation room and first aid supplies such as Band-Aids and bee sting kits. 3.5 hours shifts in the morning and afternoon are available all year round. Volunteers have the option to sit or stand.
“First Aid Station volunteers are the first line in assisting our visitors when entering the station - whether a family needs the family restroom, a mom needs to pump or breastfeed, of if someone needs to see a Medic. Our First Aid volunteers are amazing because they care and consistently go above and beyond.” - Domini Montgomery, Manager, Safety & Risk Management
Help to ensure our visitors have an incredible experience on a Behind-the-Scene tour as they see and learn about our animals up close and personal! Our volunteer Tour Guides lead groups to their behind-the-scene locations, and are trained to share zoo history, our mission and information about animal husbandry with visitors from all over the world. We ask that our Tour Guides have at least one year of Zoo volunteer experience, great communications skills and a passion for sharing our mission.
“Volunteers are the front line for meeting our tour groups. They are the first face our guests see. They are thrilled to meet our guests and show them just how extraordinary we are as a zoo. Our Tour Guide volunteers are amazing because they are fun, energetic and knowledgeable about the Zoo. My favorite part about working with volunteers is sharing their enthusiasm! They work so hard and take on every task with pride.” - Mandi Nordin, Group Tours Agent
The Saint Louis Zoo offers two volunteer opportunities for teens, ages 15-18.
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 your chosen Volunteer Orientation or Camp Training date, whichever comes first.
- One day of Volunteer Orientation (April 25 or June 2, 2020 ) and one day of Camp Training (May 30 or June 5, 2020).
- A completed ZooALIVE Application packet. Applications are due by February 27, 2020 and applicants are interviewed on March 8, 2020. Selections are made in early April. Click the Zoo ALIVE link above for detailed information and application materials.
- 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.
All ZooTeen applications and interviews are currently on hold. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
ZooTeens is a summer volunteer program with opportunities at the Emerson Children’s Zoo, Education department, Monsanto Insectarium and Safari Gift Shop for high school teens, ages 15-18. At a minimum, teens will volunteer for a weekly four-hour shift during the summer. Minimum age is 15 by Volunteer Orientation date.
- Minimum age of 15 by May 2, 2020
- Regular attendance is mandatory (weekly four-hour shift)
- Attendance at volunteer orientation on May 2, 2020 is mandatory
- Must have reliable transportation
- Must wear volunteer uniform during all volunteer shifts
Steps to volunteer:
- Work with your parent/guardian to complete the required ZooTeen Volunteer Application Packet.
- Schedule an interview by calling Volunteer Services at (314) 781-0900, ext. 4661. All interviews must take place between February 1 and April 1.
- Bring your completed Volunteer Application Packet to your volunteer interview.
- All applicants will be notified by email of acceptance status after the April 1 deadline.
- If accepted, attend mandatory volunteer orientation. Your volunteer schedule will be confirmed within 2 weeks of orientation.
Bayer Insectarium/Mary Ann Lee Butterfly Wing
ZooTeens volunteer in the Butterfly Wing to keep butterflies safe, keep visitors safe, and interact with guests to further their appreciation for invertebrates.
ZooTeens volunteering at the Children’s Zoo interact with the guests while monitoring the goat habitat and guinea pig pen. Occasionally, ZooTeens may be called upon to prepare animal diets or work side by side with keepers in animal rooms.
Junior Docents (Education department)
ZooTeens may join our Interpretation Team as Junior Docents. Docents work out on our Zoo grounds, along with teaching school programs, engaging with guests about our animals, our conservation efforts and stories. Your weekly shift will include some research in the library, attending your shift meeting, and engaging guests on grounds. You will be provided a docent mentor and training to learn and practice how we provide a great guest experience. NOTE: this opportunity does not include teaching any classes or leading tours; however, there is the chance to observe these programs.
Safari Gift Shop
ZooTeens at Safari Gift Shop help with store transfers, engage with visitors and help the store look its best. ZooTeens are an essential part of the store’s operations and make it fun for our amazing visitors.
ZooTeens Frequently Asked Questions
Minimum age is 15 by Volunteer Orientation date.
At a minimum, teens will volunteer for a weekly four-hour shift during the summer. Teens may begin or end volunteer service on different dates based on school schedule, but attendance at orientation is mandatory.
Yes, we provide free parking on the Zoo parking lots for volunteers.
Yes, teens must wear the volunteer uniform during all volunteer shifts. Volunteers are required to wear a solid white polo shirt, blouse or sweater, with khaki pants, shorts or skirt, along with a volunteer name tag.
If you have additional questions, call Volunteer Services at (314) 781-0900, ext. 4661.