Adventure. Conservation. Education. Community. These are the four pillars of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Mission. We are dedicated to creating adventure, conveying knowledge, conserving nature, and serving the community. Every day our wonderful volunteers help us achieve Our Vision – Inspiring Passion for Nature and Saving Wildlife for Future Generations. If you would like to be a part of this amazing place and our staff of nearly 800 volunteers who work to “inspire every visitor with wildlife every day,” click the appropriate tab below.


Zoo Volunteer Requirements

Here is a list of qualities we look for when selecting volunteers:

  • Reliable and able to commit to a minimum number of shifts per month or season. This will vary a bit, depending on the area(s) for which you are selected. We ask that you contribute a minimum of 50 hours of annually. Typically, our volunteers work one three-hour shift each week.
  • A genuine interest in nature and conservation.
  • Friendly, outgoing, dependable. A positive attitude is a must!

Volunteers must also meet the following requirements:

  • Submit an online application and maintain a user account on our volunteer website.
  • Be available for an in-person interview with our staff.
  • Be comfortable working with people of diverse backgrounds and special needs. Volunteers are expected to interact with everyone in a fair and respectful manner.
  • Be aware that volunteer activities take place in all weather conditions (heat, cold, rain, snow, etc.) and can require lifting, climbing, reaching, carrying, walking long distances and standing for extended periods in all environmental conditions, both indoors and outside. Please note, the Zoo has a 65-acre campus with many hills and volunteer activities take place at a variety of locations throughout the extensive grounds.
  • Submit the required information for a background check.
  • Complete Zoo-wide and department-specific required training (details are noted below in the position descriptions).
  • Once accepted, contribute a non-refundable $25 program fee, and purchase a zoo uniform shirt for $15. Should this cause economic hardship for you these fees may be waived, just let us know!
  • Be able to receive important information via email such as animal and plant updates, continuing education and shift schedules, and special events invitations.

Benefits and perks of being a CZBG Volunteer

  • Annual festivities for volunteers
  • Opportunities for continuing education
  • Access to plant and animal updates, and “insider” information about what’s happening at the Zoo
  • Discounts to various lectures and Zoo events
  • Discount at the Zoo’s restaurants and Zoo Shops
  • 50% discount when purchasing general admission tickets
  • 20% discount on CZBG membership
  • Use of the Zoo library Monday through Friday
  • Bi-monthly newsletter
  • Free parking while working your volunteer assignment

Volunteer Opportunities

Below are brief descriptions of the various volunteer positions throughout the Zoo.

Volunteer Educators 

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CarolynOur Volunteer Educators (VEs) are an important part of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Education Department. VEs create quality experiences for guests and support programs that promote the mission of the Zoo. As a VE, you will staff our Wild Discover Zones (WDZ). These are “classrooms” on wheels placed at key habitats throughout the Zoo that contain interpretive materials for fun activities and educational interactions with guests.

Number of Positions: 30-40

Training: New Volunteer Educator training consists of 20 hours of required combined activities.

  • Six orientation sessions held on either Friday or Saturday, 10 am – 12 pm, Jan through Feb (12 hours; new volunteer educators only).
  • Four natural history topic lectures, with multiple scheduled offerings, from January through March. (8 hours; all volunteer educators).

Hours: You must be able to commit to a minimum of 54 hours over three seasonal sessions* with a combination of both AM shifts (9:15 – 11:45) and PM shifts (12:15 – 2:45).

*First Session: January – April: 24 hours in a combination of training hours and two WDZ shifts in April; Second Session: May – August: 20 hours staffing WDZ; Third Session: September – October: 10 hours staffing WDZ.

Wild Encounters

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The Wild Encounters program here at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a part of the Department of Fun! – We engage visitors that walk through the park with animals through handling demonstrations, feeding stations, and animal walks. We are a group of about 50 staff, volunteers, and interns that carry out the mission of the zoo, getting visitors “close enough to care” and “inspiring every visitor with wildlife, every day.” Hopefully, you’ve seen us around the park; we are usually the ones with big crates or coolers walking to our next location for a random animal encounter, scooping up after the goats in the contact yard, helping feed the camels, or taking brisk walks with our group of interpretive flamingos. We handle animals from cockroaches to snakes to armadillos, and have lots of fun along the way!

Wild Encounters Animal Stations:

Our Animal Stations volunteers are our key interpreters in the Contact Yard and Recreation yards (AM and PM shifts) with opportunities to help walk flamingos (AM shifts), interpret during our Galapagos Tortoise encounter (PM shifts), and our public feedings for the Camel Encounter (PM shifts).

Number of Positions: TBD for 2019

Required training: Volunteer Orientation, one session of Foundations of Interpretation and additional role-specific training.

Animal Enrichment

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Animal Enrichment (AE) volunteers create safe items which will stimulate animals’ natural behaviors through sight, sound, scent, texture and more.

Volunteers assist the Enrichment Committee by building various types of approved enrichment toys or devices for the animals at the zoo. Animal Enrichment volunteers research, design, and create enrichment items for the Zoo’s animal community. This is a great opportunity for people who are crafty, can paint, paper mache, use power tools and/or have woodworking skills and enjoy problem-solving.

Number of Positions: TBD for 2019

Required training: Zoo volunteer orientation and two role-specific training sessions and role-specific training.

Hours requirements and shifts: You must commit to a minimum of two 3 hour shifts per month. Shifts are Thursdays and Saturdays from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm.  

CREW  The Carl H. Lindner Jr. Family Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife

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CREW’s mission is Saving Species with Science. We use the latest in cutting edge technology guided by a heavy dose of common sense and driven by heartfelt passion. There are many ways to volunteer with CREW. Volunteer opportunities include (click on each role for additional details):

  • Support Services
  • CREW Interpreter at Rhino Reserve & the CREW facility
  • Speaker’s Bureau/Building tour guide for pre-registered groups
  • Assisting keepers of the domestic cat colony with feeding, cleaning, and animal socializing
  • Endocrine Lab

Selection Process and Training Requirements: Small group or individual interviews will be scheduled between November and January. Selected volunteers must complete the Volunteer orientation and role-specific training (role specific training dates will be noted in each position description and attendance to all training is mandatory).

crewSupport Services
This involves staffing the front/reception desk at CREW. Volunteers are responsible for greeting visitors, monitoring the sign-in sheet, and keeping the information table stocked. A sidebar to this position includes cleaning the outside of test tubes, labeling tubes for samples, refilling pipette boxes and some data entry. There is always something new to do to help CREW staff while at the desk.
This is a year-round position, Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Number of Positions: TBD for 2019
Required training: Volunteer orientation and role-specific training provided on an individual basis.

CREW Interpreters
CREW Interpreters share with guests the work of the CREW scientists, who are Saving Species with Science right here at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

CREW Interpreters create a quality experience for guests that promotes CREW’s mission, Saving Species with Science. The CREW Cart and the Saving Species with Science Encounter both have interpretive and interactive materials for fun and educational interactions with guests. Volunteers must commit to at least two 3 hour shifts per month. The CREW Cart and Saving Species with Science Encounter open April 1, 2018. The Saving Species with Science Encounter closes on Labor Day and the CREW Cart closes October 31, 2018. A science background is not required.

  • The CREW Cart is located on zoo grounds across from the Black Rhino habitat. It has interesting and engaging activities for all age groups.
  • The Encounter is located in the CREW building, which gives guests the opportunity to see the work of the CREW scientists in each of the four Signature Projects – Rhinos, Plants, Cats, and Polar Bears.

Number of Positions: TBD for 2019
Required training: Volunteer Orientation, one session of Foundations of Interpretation and three CREW training sessions in March.


Speakers Bureau/Building Tours
Volunteers must be dynamic, engaging, and enjoying working with school groups, both large and small. Responsibilities include providing in-depth information about the science taking place at CREW, both through a Power-Point presentation and in providing tours of the building. A science background is not necessary, but a pro-active attitude and a willingness to learn certainly is. Daytime/work week availability is a must. This is a year-round position.

Number of Positions: TBD for 2019
Required training: Volunteer Orientation, one session of Foundations of Interpretation and role-specific training, which be will be done on an individual basis.

IMG_2970CREW Domestic Cat Colony
Volunteers must enjoy cats and a fast-paced, physical environment. Socializing with the cats afterward is their reward and of course, yours!

This is a year-round volunteer activity, with volunteer opportunities weekdays and weekends. Volunteers must commit to at least two shifts per month.

Number of Positions: TBD for 2019
Required training: Volunteer orientation and role-specific training, which will be conducted on an individual basis with the manager of the cat colony.

Endocrine Lab
Volunteers in the Endocrine Lab are involved in the preparation of fecal samples to be used by the researchers for various modes of study. Responsibilities include labeling tubes and bags, cleaning dried fecal samples, pounding fecal samples into a powder and weighing them. Volunteers must commit to two shifts per month. Shifts are Monday through Friday during business hours.

Number of Positions: TBD for 2019
Required training: Volunteer orientation and three role-specific training sessions. These are scheduled on an individual basis.


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We aren’t just a Zoo, we are also a Botanical Garden! If you already love to garden, would like to learn more from experienced gardeners, or simply want to walk around the spectacular Zoo grounds and say “I did that!”, join our Horticulture team. Our volunteers help grow, plant and maintain the dozens of beautiful garden beds around the Zoo.

  • Garden Volunteer – Plan annuals, tulip bulbs, perennials, and small shrubs in floral display beds and decorative containers; pull weeds in gardens and nurseries, mulch display areas, maintain perennial display beds, pot annual and perennial plugs; pot, maintain, and process tropical plants; and assist with plant sales.
  • Horticulture Liaison – Share information with guests on gardening for wildlife, pass out seed packets, answer gardening questions at our “What’s Blooming” station, and engage young visitors through educational horticulture games and encounters.
  • Horticulture Events – Help with events such as the Native Plant Symposium, National Public Garden Day, Tree Carnival, Pollinator Carnival, and other events throughout the year.

Number of Positions: No max number for any of our roles.

Training: Zoo Volunteer Orientation and 3 training sessions with our Horticulture staff in March.

Hours: Horticulture volunteers typically work one 3 hour shift per week. Seasonal work days are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.

Dive In – Volunteer Diver

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Our volunteer SCUBA divers provide valuable assistance to our keepers by helping to maintain exhibits to the high standards required by the American Zoological Association (AZA). Our divers must also meet CZBG and OSHA safety and qualifications/requirements, including:

  • Minimum Open Water SCUBA Diver certification (PADI, NAUI, SSI, YMCA, etc.)
  • A minimum of 12 open water dives logged and the most recent must have been in the last 12 months
  • Attend diver skills assessment
  • Demonstrate a level of comfort and competence in the exhibit
  • CPR/First Aid Certification
  • Current TB test
  • Proof of Medical Insurance (DAN insurance can be supplemental)
  • Annual Physician’s Authorization Form
  • Liability Release
  • Be willing to commit to the financial obligations associated with these qualifications
  • Ongoing mandatory training and evaluation
  • Commit to a minimum of 1-2 shifts per month to remain an active member of the team
  • Divers must provide their own wetsuit, mask, and boots

If selected for an interview, documentation must be provided prior to the interview.

If you can meet these requirements please email [email protected] and you will be contacted regarding your next steps.

If you are in need of Diving or Trip Insurance, why not get it through the Zoo’s DAN Industry Partnership.  The cost is the same as it normally would be, but the Zoo gets points for each membership it sells or renews, which in turn can be used to purchase DAN safety equipment for zoo areas. Follow the links below for more information.


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This volunteer opportunity is for all the crafters out there!  Zoosters attend weekly workshops on Tuesday mornings in the Zoo’s Education Department and make craft items to sell during the Festival of Lights and other special events. All profits from sales are donated to the Zoo to help cover the cost of signs, graphics, and other Education needs.

Training: Zoo Volunteer Orientation. No formal training is provided, this opportunity is for people who enjoy crafting and love the Zoo.

Hours: Typically, Zoosters meet for 2 hours a week on Tuesday mornings, however individual commitments vary and many Zoosters work from home.


New volunteer recruitment for the 2018 season is now CLOSED.

Applications are accepted from September 1st to October 31st, review and interviews occur in November, and selections will be made in December. Please be sure you can meet the training and hours requirements before applying for the position you are interested in.

Contact us:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 513-559-7755


This program is designed for teens that love nature and wish to develop environmental stewardship and leadership skills, as they relate to the Zoo’s mission. As a VolunTeen, you’ll get to experience this amazing place from a whole new perspective and gain an appreciation for all that goes on behind-the-scenes. There are VolunTeen opportunities in the Spaulding Children’s Zoo with Zoo T.R.I.B.E., the Education Department (Summer Camp) with Zoo T.E.A.M., and the Horticulture Department as a Garden Assistant or with Buzz Troop.

Along with having an amazing Zoo experience, VolunTeens also enjoy team building activities for the whole VolunTeen Program. Also, being a part of the Zoo family, VolunTeens enjoy a discount at the Zoo’s restaurants and shops and a 50% discount on general admission tickets.

Our VolunTeen Program is very popular and we do not have enough opportunities to accommodate all who want to participate, so please do not be upset if you are not selected. We often have twice as many applicants as we have available spots! If you have been a VolunTeen in past years, that is NOT a guarantee that you will be selected this year. We do keep a waiting list and sometimes those on the list are brought into the program when others are unable to fulfill their commitment or meet our high standards.

VolunTeen opportunities are…

Zoo T.E.A.M. (Teen Educators And Mentors) MEMBER

A great position if you want to further your knowledge about wildlife education and work with children and animals, at the same time! As a T.E.A.M. member, you will assist the Education staff with the Zoo’s Summer Camp program by working closely with instructors and other T.E.A.M. members to ensure campers have a fun, safe, and educational experience. You will have opportunities to support and lead activities, crafts, songs and other games, all while improving your environmental messaging, interpretation, and leadership skills.

You must be at least 13 years old, and able to commit to volunteering for full weeks, Monday through Friday. You may choose to work as many weeks as you’d like, but a minimum of 3 weeks is required. You are strongly encouraged to work full day shifts, but a.m. and p.m. shifts are available.

*Please note that a select group of T.E.A.M. members may be invited to extend their position into the school year to assist with year-round educational programs. An inability to extend your time with us will not affect your being chosen to participate in the summer program.


Take the skills you’ve gained as a T.E.A.M. member to the next level! As a Leader, you will act as a role model and mentor to new and returning T.E.A.M. members, while continuing to perform your duties as a T.E.A.M. member. You will have opportunities to improve your leadership, communication, and interpretive skills by working closely with Education staff to lead camp activities, peer team building opportunities, and handle select Education animal ambassadors.

You must be at least 15 years old with at least 2 years of experience as a T.E.A.M. member and able to commit to volunteering for full weeks, Monday through Friday.  You may choose to work as many weeks as you’d like, but a minimum of 4 weeks is required. Leaders must commit to full days for all 4 weeks.

*Please note that a select group of T.E.A.M. Leaders may be invited to extend their position into the school year to assist with year-round educational programs. An inability to extend your time with us will not affect your being chosen to participate in the summer program.


Perfect for teens who love to be outside and play in the dirt! The Garden Assistant position is partnered with the Horticulture Department. VolunTeens help with gardening activities like planting, weeding, watering, and various other jobs throughout the Zoo’s beautiful gardens. This is a unique opportunity to work in many areas of the Zoo and learn how we create and maintain our spectacular grounds.

You must be at least 13 years old and able to work outdoors throughout the summer and commit to one four-hour shift per week, or a minimum of 40 hours per summer.


The Buzz Troop is a new exciting opportunity to work with the Horticulture Department! Teens will monitor and record pollinators, their activity, and plants throughout the Zoo’s gardens throughout the summer. You will help demonstrate and promote gardening for wildlife. This is a great opportunity to learn how to identify bees, butterflies, and flowers.

You must be at least 13 years old and able to work outdoors, communicate with visitors, and be detailed oriented. Positions are limited.

Zoo T.R.I.B.E. (Teen Recruits Inspiring By Example)

In this exciting program, teens work with Zoo staff, educators, and keepers to learn and practice public engagement with wildlife, environmental education, and animal care! The goal of this program is for T.R.I.B.E. members to become leaders within their peer groups, learn to be independent and self-driven, and become valuable members of the Zoo and conservation community. Over multiple years, T.R.I.B.E. members who demonstrate commitment and growth will have the opportunity to advance through a variety of positions including exhibit interpretation, basic animal care, and husbandry. If you are selected to be a T.R.I.B.E. member, your Zoo experience will begin by interacting with the public in the Spaulding Children’s Zoo, to focus on developing the foundational skills of leadership and environmental stewardship.

To apply for T.R.I.B.E., you must be at least 13 years old and able to commit to three 4-hour shifts per week (140 hours per summer), as a minimum.

*A limited number of season and year-round positions are available, and teens selected to year-round positions will be eligible for further leadership development, including becoming T.R.I.B.E. Leaders that oversee newly-minted T.R.I.B.E. members.

VolunTeen Qualities, Requirements and Application Information

These are some of the qualities we look for when selecting VolunTeens:

  • A genuine passion for nature and conservation
  • A positive attitude and inquisitive mind
  • A willingness to learn and challenge yourself to do new things
  • Reliable and able to commit to the hours required by the position for which you are selected

VolunTeens must also meet the following requirements:

  • Be available for an in-person interview with our staff.
  • Be 13 years old by May 1st
  • Attend one of the Orientation sessions: April 23, 2017, or April 30, 2017.
  • Once accepted, contribute a non-refundable $10 program fee, and purchase a zoo uniform shirt for $15. Should this cause economic hardship for you these fees may be waived, just let us know!
  • Be able to receive important information via email, and create a CZBG VolunTeen Profile online where you can update your personal information and log service hours (NOTE: We respect your privacy and never share personal information with anyone outside our organization).


The application period for our Summer 2017 VolunTeen program is now CLOSED.

Please check back in November 2017 for VolunTeen program updates. The Summer 2018 VolunTeen program applications will be open December 1, 2017 — February 28, 2018. 

Contact us:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 513-559-7755

If your organization is looking for opportunities to have fun while taking meaningful conservation action through community service, then consider spending the day on a Zoo led project! Projects could take place on our grounds or in our community.

Our zoo and city are growing and we’re learning new ways to support the balance between wildlife and our daily lives through green spaces, parks, and innovative practices. Caring for this lively, vibrant urban habitat is fun and rewarding, and we would love your help.

Groups of 15-30 volunteers have the opportunity to work side-by-side with Zoo staff on various projects that could involve creating and improving habitats for wildlife like bees, butterflies, and birds, helping with general garden maintenance tasks like planting, mulching, weeding and raking, or beautifying green spaces on zoo grounds or places around Cincinnati that need our help. Don’t worry, we will make it fun, informative and your valuable time will be well-spent!

“Sounds great! How can my group get involved?”

1) Check out the calendar to see which dates we can plan service projects for your team of 15-30 volunteers. A day of service will last no more than 4 consecutive hours between the hours of 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

2) Determine your group’s top 3 most desired dates for a day of service. This may be individual days, or ranges of days. To best accommodate your group, service project requests must be submitted no less than 4 weeks before your first preference.

3) Click here to submit your availability.

Questions? Contact the AmeriCorps Volunteer & Community Engagement Member at [email protected]

Family Community Service

Join the Zoo to make a positive change in our community! Opportunities are available for adults and families/small groups to volunteer for a few hours at a time to participate in hands-on wildlife conservation efforts spearheaded by the Zoo and our community partners.

Join us for a single event, join us for all, or choose just your favorite activities that fit your schedule from the list below. Family Community Service volunteers are not required to meet a certain number of hours each year.

If you’re looking for a service opportunity for your corporation, please go to Corporate Community Service.

Who can join?

Adults and families/small groups who are ready to take conservation action in a social environment; all participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

What will we do?

We’ll participate in group conservation activities organized by Zoo staff and our community partners, such as:

  • Collecting and contributing data to local and global citizen science projects such as BeeSpotter, Great Backyard Bird Count, FrogWatch, and MonarchWatch
  • Restoring and maintaining natural habitats, e.g. planting trees, creating pollinator gardens, removing invasive plant species
  • Cleaning up our natural areas, e.g. river and park clean ups
  • Make our spaces more wildlife-friendly places, e.g. building bird and bat houses
  • Educating and encouraging ourselves and others to conserve natural resources, e.g. participating in Earth Day booth
  • And more!

How does it work?

  1. Look below for upcoming events; check back often to see what’s been added and/or sign up below to receive monthly email updates.
  2. When you see an event in which you’re interested, click on it for more details. Note: While families/groups with children are encouraged to participate in many activities, some may be appropriate only for adults.
  3. Log in to My Volunteer Page and sign up yourself and/or your family/small group for the specific event at least one week in advance of the event.
    • If this is your first event with us, you’ll need to apply to be a Community Service volunteer with the Cincinnati Zoo on My Volunteer Page before you can sign up for an event. If you already have a My Volunteer Page account, please sign in with your current username and password. If you’re new to My Volunteer Page, create a new account. Once your application is approved, you’ll be notified by email (generally within 1-2 days).
  4. Once you’ve signed up for an event, you’ll receive a confirmation email within the next 1-2 days. The confirmation email will include directions, e.g. what to wear, what to bring, where to meet, and so on.
  5. Show up at the right place and time ready to go!

Service hour credits

At this time, we cannot accommodate court-ordered service hours.

Upcoming Events


November 4, 9:00AM – 12:00PM, Restoring Wetlands at EcOhio

Help us restore a local wetland! We’ll spend the morning at EcOhio Farm, our 600-acre site in Warren County, helping the Zoo’s Horticulture team propagate new plants (splitting and repotting) to lay the foundation for a healthy ecosystem. If the weather allows, we may also get a chance to start putting some plants in the ground!

EcOhio Farm is home to a 24-acre wet sedge meadow that was initially restored four years ago by the Zoo. The wetland restoration is a work in progress, yet already we’ve seen the return of many native wildlife species to the area. EcOhio is not currently open to visitors on a regular basis so this is a great chance to see what’s happening out there while helping to rebuild natural habitat.

This opportunity is open to adults and small groups/families of all ages. Participants should be willing and able to get dirty and tolerate cool and rainy weather. We won’t let a little rain get in our way as we can move activities inside the barn, if needed. However, if severe weather requires us to postpone, we’ll move the event to November 18. Please limit group size to no more than 6 as total participation is limited to 40.

We will meet at EcOhio Farm. Meeting location, waiver and additional event details to be sent with confirmation email following sign up. Go to My Volunteer Page to sign up now!


January TBD, Building Bat Houses
February TBD, Milkweed for Monarchs
March TBD, Citizen Science: FrogWatch
May TBD, Citizen Science: Global Big Day (Birding)
July TBD, Helping out Honeybees
Questions? Email [email protected].

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