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.

Adults (ages 18 and up)


Qualities we look for when selecting volunteers

  • A genuine interest in nature and conservation.
  • Friendly, outgoing, dependable. A positive attitude is a must!
  • 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 minimum of 50 hours of annually. Typically, our volunteers work one three-hour shift each week. This shift, either morning or afternoon, is generally on the same day each week but we do understand the need for flexible scheduling.

Volunteers must also meet the following requirements

  • Submit an online application and maintain a user account in 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 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 $40 non-refundable, one-time materials fee which includes your uniform shirt, processing of your ID badge and parking permit, Volunteer Handbook, and any training materials (should this cause economic hardship for you, the fee 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. Please scroll down to the bottom of this page for detailed information on recruitment status and application process.

CarolynVolunteer Educators


Our Volunteer Educators (VEs) are an important part of the CZBG Education Department. VEs create quality experiences for guests and support programs that promote the mission of the Zoo. As a VE, you will begin by staffing our Wild Discover Zones. These are “classrooms” on wheels placed at key exhibits throughout the Zoo that contain interpretive materials for fun activities and educational interactions with guests. VEs also help facilitate School Events and act as Hosts for school field trips. This is the place to start if you would like to be considered for our Wild Encounters program which requires additional training and internal recommendations.

Training: Zoo volunteer orientation and 8 training sessions with Zoo staff from January through March

Hours: You must be able to commit to 45 hours per year/15 hours per session (Jan-Apr, May-Aug, Sep-Dec)



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

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 (click here for more information). There are many ways to volunteer with CREW. Volunteer opportunities include:

  • Support Services / Receptionists 
  • Hosting tours of the Public Exhibit and state-of-the-art facility 
  • Conducting slide presentations for special events
  • Animal Holding: Assisting keepers of the domestic cat colony with feeding, cleaning, and animal socializing 
  • Plant lab and procedures team 

Training: Zoo Volunteer Orientation and role specific training in March.

Hours: You must be able to commit to 25 hours per year.



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. Volunteer opportunities include:

  • Gardening- Planting annuals and tulip bulbs, weeding, mulching, potting, etc.
  • Horticulture Liaison- Share information with guests on gardening for wildlife, pass out seed packets, answer gardening questions at our “What’s Blooming” station.
  • Horticulture Events- Help with events like the Native Plant Symposium, National Public Garden Day, The Tree Carnival and other events throughout the year.

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, 9:00am – 12:00pm.

Special Events


The Cincinnati Zoo hosts numerous “Special Events” throughout the year. These are great opportunities for active, current Zoo volunteers to work with other departments on fun projects. Many events are offered in the evenings and on weekends, enabling volunteers who work during the week to participate in the fun! Some of our popular annual events are Zoo Blooms, Members’ Night, HallZOOween, the Cheetah Run and Festival of Lights.

Training: Zoo Volunteer Orientation, however no formal training is necessary as these opportunities are open to current Zoo volunteers only.

Hours: Hours will vary depending on the event.



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.

Thank you for your interest in becoming a CZBG volunteer! New volunteer recruitment for the 2015 season is now CLOSED. Please check back next year when the application window is open again from September 1st through October 31st. Application review and interviews occur in November and selections will be made in December. Training is from January through March (weekend and weekday options are available) and the summer season kicks off in April!

VolunTeens (ages 13 – 17)


This program is designed just for teens who love nature and the Zoo! As a VolunTeen (VT), you’ll get to experience this amazing place from a whole new perspective and gain an appreciation of all that goes on behind-the-scenes. There are VolunTeen opportunities in the Education Department, Children’s Zoo, Horticulture, Green Team and T.R.I.B.E.

Along with having an amazing Zoo experience, VolunTeens also enjoy a discount at the Zoo’s restaurants and shops, and a 50% discount on general admission tickets.

VolunTeen opportunities are…



A great place to start! You must be at least 13 years old, and able to commit to work a full week, Monday through Friday. You may choose to work as many weeks as you like, but a minimum of 2 weeks is required. You are strongly encouraged to work full day shifts, but a.m. and p.m. shifts are available. Teen Educators And Mentors (T.E.A.M.) Teachers’ Aides assist the Education staff with the Zoo’s summer camp program. You will help prepare for the daily classes, assist children with crafts and activities, and help keep campers together during hikes in the Zoo.



You must be at least 15 years old with at least 2 years of experience as T.E.A.M. Teachers’ Aide and able to commit to a full week, Monday through Friday. You may choose to work as many weeks as you like, but a minimum of 3 weeks is required. There are a.m. and p.m. shifts, however T.E.A.M. Leaders must commit to full days for at least two of the three required weeks. As a T.E.A.M. Leader, you will perform all the same duties as the Teachers’ aides, but you will also act as a role model and mentor to other T.E.A.M. teens, are responsible for checking in/out other T.E.A.M. teens as they arrive/leave for the day, and assist the Education staff with the retrieval and return of select education animal ambassadors used in summer programs.



Perfect for teens who love to be outside and get dirty! You must be at least 13 years old and able to commit to one four-hour shift per week, or a minimum of 40 hours per summer. The Garden Assistant Program is offered through the Horticulture Department. VolunTeens help with gardening activities like planting, weeding, watering, and various other jobs throughout the Zoo’s beautiful gardens. You must be able to work outdoors throughout the summer. This is a unique opportunity to work in many areas of the Zoo and learn how we create and maintain our spectacular grounds.



The Buzz Troop is a new exciting opportunity to work with the Horticulture Department! Teens will monitor pollinators and plants throughout the Zoo’s gardens through the summer. You will help demonstrate and promote gardening for wildlife. The Buzz Troop will also monitor and record pollination activities. This is a great opportunity to learn how to identify bees, butterflies and flowers. You must be able to work outdoors, communicate with visitors and be detail oriented. Teens selected for this opportunity will be required to participate in an interview and attended several training sessions. Positions are limited.



Make a difference, change the world! Help Zoo visitors better understand how fun and easy it is to care for our planet. Green Teens interact with Zoo guests to answer questions about sustainability and raise awareness of the “Greenest Zoo in America”. Green Teens give tours of the Go Green Garden Exhibit, create and share fun hands-on activities, and inspire guests to go green. New for 2015 will be leading themed weeks of activities and talks in the Go Green Garden exhibit. Extensive training will be offered to ensure teens are comfortable with the Zoo’s green initiatives, as well as general green topics. Opportunities for Green Teens include, but are not limited to, staffing the Go Green Garden exhibit, developing green tips and hands-on activities, assisting with neighborhood and park clean-ups, raising awareness about the Zoo’s Community Engagement efforts regarding sustainability, and more. These opportunities provide teens with experiences that expand their skill set such as public speaking, sustainability knowledge, and writing skills. Priority will be given to teens that have a passion, knowledge and interest for green living; strong, public speaking skills; and demonstrate initiative and creativity. To apply for Green Teens, you must be at least 13 years old and able to commit to at least two four-hour shifts per week, and a minimum of 100 hours per summer. Limited positions are available.

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


In this exciting program, teens work with keepers, educators, and administrators to learn and practice animal care and handling, public engagement with nature, and environmental education! As a T.R.I.B.E. member, you will have the opportunity to advance through a variety of positions including basic animal handling, husbandry, public shows and demonstrations. If you are selected to be a TRIBE member, your Zoo experience will begin by interacting with the public in the Spaulding Children’s Zoo. As you progress through the program, you will have the opportunity to impact visitors Zoo-wide! The goal of T.R.I.B.E. is for T.R.I.B.E. members to become leaders in their peer groups, learn to be independent and self-driven, and become valuable members of the Zoo and conservation community. To apply for T.R.I.B.E., you must be at least 13 years of age and able to commit to three 4-hour shifts per week (140 hours per summer). Seasonal and year-round positions are available, and teens agreeing to year-round positions will be eligible for further professional development, including becoming T.R.I.B.E. Leaders that oversee newly-minted T.R.I.B.E. members. Please note, if you are interested in volunteering in Lorikeet Landing you should apply for T.R.I.B.E., as this exhibit is now a part of our growing T.R.I.B.E. responsibilities!

Our VolunTeen Program is very popular and we do not have enough opportunities to accommodate all who want to participate, so please don’t 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 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 are 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 in late April, 2015.
  • Once accepted, contribute a non-refundable $25 program fee. 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 hours (NOTE: We respect your privacy and never share personal information with anyone outside our organization.)

The VolunTeen application is open now through February 28th, applications submitted after February 28th will not be accepted.  Please click here to download the application checklist. This is only a tool for you to prepare your application answers and be sure all required fields are completed, we will not accept paper applications. Once you have reviewed the checklist and understand the process, NEW APPLICANTS please click here to complete your online application. RETURNING VOLUNTEENS do not use the NEW APPLICANT link, please click here to log in to your MVP account from last summer to update your information.

We will contact you via email in early April regarding your application status and next steps.

Many thanks for your interest in our VolunTeen Program!

Dive In

New diving opportunities coming in Spring of 2015.  If you would like to volunteer, check back then.

DanlogoDAN Insurance Policies

-          DAN Dive Travel Insurance

-          DAN Membership and Diving Insurance

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. 

Can I work directly with animals as a volunteer?

No. Our well trained keeper staff works with our Zoo animals. However, active CZBG volunteers may become eligible to be trained as animal handlers with our interpretive collection. This requires an internal recommendation and separate application. The main role and purpose of CZBG volunteers is to interact with Zoo guests.

Can I shadow a Zookeeper?

No. Due to liability issues, we do not allow shadowing of Zoo personnel.

Can I do my Community Service hours at the Zoo?

No. Working on Zoo grounds in any capacity requires training so short-term volunteering is not possible.

We also have a terrific Intern program for college students or recent college graduates. We offer sessions in winter, summer, and fall. An internship at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a great asset to include on a resume.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s intern program offers a wide range of experiences in the areas of animal care, business, development, environmental education, group sales, horticulture, information technology, veterinary technology and wildlife research.

Animal Care (Unpaid) – Available during the summer session only

Interns working in the Animal Care departments have the opportunity to work under the supervision of experienced animal keepers. Interns help to maintain the animal collection by preparing diets, cleaning exhibits, shifting animals, and monitoring the health of the collection.

more info

Working with the keeper staff, interns gain experience in providing for the needs of exotic animals in captivity and acquire better understanding of the requirements of these animals. Interns are assigned to a morning and afternoon animal area and are working from the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., generally Monday-Friday but some weekends may be required . This internship will only be available during the summer session. Animal care experience is available in the following areas:

  • Manatee Springs (Manatees and other Floridian wildlife)
  • African Veldt/ Rhino Reserve (Indian and black rhinoceros and various hoof stock)
  • Amphibian Collection
  • Night Hunters
  • Children’s Zoo (rare barnyard livestock and small eastern woodland animals)
  • Commissary
  • Vanishing Giants (elephants, giraffe and okapi)
  • Insectarium
  • Jungle Trails (primates and small nocturnal animals)
  • Primate Center (lowland gorillas, colobus monkeys and guenons)
  • Reptile House
  • Wildlife Canyon (Sumatran rhinoceros and various hoof stock)
  • Wings of the World (birds)

Business (Unpaid)

The intern assists the business manager with operations, purchasing, and maintaining supply inventory, as well as coordinating maintenance and construction/renovation projects, development and implementation of safety programs, plus scheduling and overseeing seasonal personnel.

Development Fundraising Internship (Unpaid)

This is a great opportunity for students seeking to work in the Development field as a fundraising professional. Intern will gain first-hand experience with written and phone solicitation and donor cultivation and stewardship. Intern will have the opportunity to work alongside the Chief Development Officer, Director of Development, Director of Planned and Major Gifts, Grants Manager and Sponsorship and Marketing Manager as he/she is introduced to a multi-faceted development department.

more info

Under the direction of the Development team, intern will assist with the editing and writing end-year solicitation letters, grant research and development, sponsorship solicitation, donor cultivation events and visits, development research, and various other tasks.
Intern should have schedule flexibility, be able to commit to three 8-hour shifts per week in the office, and be available to assist with some evening/weekend events.

• Strong interpersonal, verbal (including phone work) and written communication skills. Due to the nature of this position, we recommend submitting two writing samples with your application.
• Positive attitude
• Basic computer processing skills including Microsoft Office and Internet
• Interest in a career in fundraising/development for a non-profit organization – it is preferable but not necessary that you have successfully completed one internship (in any field) upon application.
• Highly organized with attention to detail
• Ability to work as part of a team
• Extremely professional in manner and dress
• Completion of Sophomore year of college

Development Event Intern (Unpaid)

This position plays an integral role in assisting with the coordination and implementation of donor appreciation and fundraising events. It is a great opportunity for students seeking to work in the fundraising field as an event planner. Under the supervision of the Stewardship and Special Events Manager, intern will be responsible for assisting in various phases of event planning and administration.

more info

Intern will gain hands-on experience with events including:  the Zoo Golf Tournament, Wild about Wine, Zoo La La, donor appreciation and cultivation events, and an Exhibit Opening.  In addition, he/she will assist in the planning phases of Zoofari.  Information regarding our fundraising events can be found on the Zoo’s website.

The internship program is designed to provide an opportunity to learn about all aspects of event planning and a basic introduction to the day-to-day operations of a Development Department.  Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Respond to phone and email inquiries
  • Managing event reservations
  • Working with event timelines
  • Communicating with sponsors, donors, vendors and zoo staff
  • Event set-up and implementation
  • Post Event evaluation and follow-up
  • Securing items for Silent Auction
  • Opportunity to work with other Development Interns on special project(s)
  • Assisting Development staff with various projects

Intern should have a flexible schedule, be able to commit to three 8-hour shifts per week in the office, be able to lift 25 pounds, and be available to assist with evening/weekend events (approximately five events) outside of regularly scheduled office hours.

• Excellent interpersonal, verbal (including phone work) and written communication skills
• Positive attitude and eagerness to learn
• Working knowledge of Microsoft Office
• Interest in a career in event planning/fundraising for a non-profit organization
• Highly organized and self-motivated with attention to detail
• Ability to work as part of a team
• Extremely professional in manner and dress
• Completion of sophomore year of college

Environmental Education (Unpaid)

Working in the Education Department provides interns with an opportunity to convey an appreciation and understanding of the natural world to others. Professional educators offer support, training, and guidance in presenting live animal demonstrations, along with assisting you in the coordination and instruction of various educational programs.

Intern should have a flexible schedule, be able to commit to three 8-hour shifts per week in the office, be able to lift 25 pounds, and be available to assist with evening/weekend events outside of regularly scheduled office hours.

Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer Internships available.


  • A sincere love of wildlife and nature, and desire to share that interest with others.
  • Knowledge of/ education in wildlife ecology, environmental science, biology, zoology or a related natural science.
  • Knowledge of/ education in/ experience in formal education, or environmental education, conservation education, or a related non-formal education field.
  • Experience handling birds, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates, or a willingness to learn.
  • Desire and interest in working with young children; demonstrated patience, rapport with, and understanding of young children and their parents.
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office suite and other basic computer applications.


  • To teach and facilitate programs to any of the following participant groups: 18 month olds-14 year olds, Families, Adults, and others.
  • Prepare crafts, rosters, animal schedules and other program operational needs.
  • Assist in Spring Break and Summer Camp planning efforts.
  • Present live animal demonstration to the public on and off Zoo grounds, employing the highest care and presentations standards as defined in the CZBG animal handling guidelines.
  • Provide high quality customer service to zoo visitors specifically building visitors and program participants.
  • Assist Program Coordinators as needed.

Group Sales (Unpaid)

• Assist in the organizing, execution, and clean up of social and corporate events.

• Provide administrative support with database entry, mass mailings, and a variety of other tasks. • Assist in managing and editing our website.

• Help the sales team with a variety of projects.

Qualifications: Need to be organized, outgoing, articulate – both in writing and in person – reliable, mature, and independent. A background in customer service would be a plus. Also need to be able to work evenings and weekends.

Horticulture/Botany (Unpaid)

Interns gain first-hand experience in the maintenance and expansion of the Zoo’s botanical collection. Work includes planting, pruning, watering, and weeding along with labeling, tracking new acquisitions, and transferring and maintaining computer records. Listed in the AABGA, Internship Opportunities.

Internship opportunities available only during the summer session.

Native Plant Program Intern

Interns gain first-hand experience in the maintenance and expansion of the Zoo’s Native Plant Program. Interns will also help with growing native federally endangered species, such as Short’s goldenrod, Cumberland sandwort, northern monkshood, running buffalo clover,

more info

}Virginia spirea and other endangered species. Work also includes propagation, such as divisions, cuttings, and seed collecting and germinating.  Intern will also set up and run small research comparisons on native plants and growing conditions.

Interns get to work with native flora; work includes planting, pruning, watering, mulching, and weeding along with labeling established native gardens. Intern will also help evaluate flora on which species make good gardening plants.

Intern will also learn identification, cultural requirements, and various propagation techniques for native flora.

Internship opportunities are available beginning in March.

Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) (Unpaid)

CREW interns will experience high tech research at one of the most sophisticated centers for plant and animal research in the world. Only advanced graduate and veterinary students with strong research interests will be considered. Interns will assist professionals using research techniques on the cutting edge of science, including cryopreservation, embryo transfer and plant cloning. Interns also help with routine laboratory work and plant/animal care. This position is only available during the summer session.

Security Department (Unpaid)

Security interns will assist security management with scheduling (both for general and special events), first aid response, surveillance, access control, and safety assurance. Interns will also be given special academic research/proposal projects.

Veterinary Technology (Unpaid)

Internships are available to veterinary technician students in their final year of training. Internships are 6-10 weeks in length. The intern assists hospital staff with animal procedures, immobilizations, laboratory work, dispensing medication, maintaining supplies, and behavioral conditioning of the animals. Internship opportunities available only during the summer and fall sessions. This internship is only available during the summer session.

Wild Encounters Internship (Unpaid)

Working with the Education Department, you will have the unique opportunity to have hands-on experience in several different visitor engagement areas.

more info

Wild Encounters Includes:

  • Animal Encounters; bring education animal ambassadors out and around zoo grounds to meet visitors.
  • Interpretive visitor feeding stations; engage with the guests and convey specific conservation messages and information about the animal as well as facilitate the feeding experience.
  • Wild Research Discover Zones;  interact with the public at multiple exhibits asking them questions, facilitating investigations and engaging in conservation stories.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Conduct on-grounds exhibit interpretation.
  • Complete animal handling training and present live animal demonstrations.
  • Complete interpretive training aligned with the National Association of Interpretation guidelines.


Experience and/or strong interest in working with people, strong communication skills, willingness to learn to work with variety of animals, strong conservation values, successful completion of a background check.

Past animal handling, and/or interpretation experience is a plus.

We have shifts available 7 days a week from 9:30 a.m. 4:00 p.m. and you must be available for shifts that make up 40 hours each week

Internship available: spring, summer and fall.

Application Process

College students or recent graduates who wish to apply should send a cover letter, resume, and letter of recommendation, with the application form.

The cover letter should include the following:

  • Why you are interested in an internship at the Cincinnati Zoo
  • Where you heard about the intern program
  • What intern opportunities interest you – if interested in animal care, please specify two areas of preference
  • What you would like to gain from an internship

All components of the application should be sent in one packet, including the recommendation letter. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Please send complete application packet to:

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Volunteer Services/Intern Program
3400 Vine St.
Cincinnati, OH 45220
Phone 513-559-7736

Internship OpportunitiesApplication due dates
Spring Internships Application packets due by January 15.
Placement will be completed by February 15.
Summer Internships Application packets due by March 1.
Placement will be completed by April 30.
Summer internship usually begins the last week of May.
Fall InternshipsApplication packets due by July 1.
Placement will be completed by August 1.
Internship Dates for 2014:

Spring                     Monday, March 10 – Friday, May 30

Summer                Monday, May 19 – Friday, August 8

Fall runs from      Monday, August 18 – Thursday, November 7

For further questions call 513-559-7736 or email us at