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.

Volunteer Requirements

Here is a list of 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 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.

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.

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
  • Animal Holding: Assisting keepers of the domestic cat colony with feeding, cleaning, and animal socializing
  • Endocrine 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.

Dive In

Volunteer Diver

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:

  • Diver certification (PADI, NAUI, SSI, YMCA, etc.)
  • CPR/First Aid certification
  • Open water experience
  • Demonstrate a level of comfort and competence in the exhibit
  • Proof of Medical Insurance (DAN insurance can be supplemental)
  • Physician approved medical evaluation at intervals based on age (18-39, evaluation required every 5 years, 40-59, evaluation required every 3 years, over 60, evaluation required every 2 years)
  • Be willing to commit to the financial obligations associated with these qualifications
  • Medical History form
  • Ongoing mandatory training and evaluation
  • Commit to a minimum of 1-2 shifts per month to remain an active member of the team.

If selected for an interview, documentation must be provided prior to the interview. Dive shifts will vary depending on the day of the week and exhibit. Current openings are for Manatee Springs on Monday 7:00 – 9:00am, Tuesday 8:30 – 10:30am, and Friday 7:00 – 9:00am. Additional shifts for other aquatic exhibits are to be determined.

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.

DanlogoDAN Insurance Policies

DAN Dive Travel Insurance

DAN Membership and Diving Insurance


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 2016 season is now CLOSED. Please check back next fall for the 2017 volunteer opportunities. Applications are accepted from September 1st to October 31st, review and interviews occur in November and selections will be made in December. Training is from January through March and the summer season kicks off in April!

Contact us:

Email: volunteers@cincinnatizoo.org

Phone: 513-559-7755


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, 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.

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 opportunities are…

EDUCATION T.E.A.M. (Teen Educators And Mentors) TEACHERS’ AIDE

A great place to start if you want to further your knowledge about wildlife education and work with children and animals, at the same time!  As a Teacher’s Aide, 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 education interpretive 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 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 Teacher’s Aides 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. Teacher’s Aide to the next level. As a Leader, you will perform all the same duties as a Teacher’s Aide, but you will also act as a role model and mentor to new and returning T.E.A.M. members. In addition, you will have opportunities improve your leadership, communication and interpretive skills by working closely with Education Staff to lead your peers in camp activities and handle select Education animal ambassadors. You must be at least 15 years old with at least 2 years of experience as a Teacher’s Aide and able to commit to volunteering for full weeks, Monday through Friday. You may choose to work as many weeks as you like, but a minimum of 4 weeks is required. Leaders must commit to full days for all four weeks. 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.


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. Positions are limited.

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.

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 $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 hours (NOTE: We respect your privacy and never share personal information with anyone outside our organization.)


The VolunTeen application submission window for Summer 2015 is now CLOSED.  Applications for Summer 2016 are accepted December 1st through February 28th.

Many thanks for your interest in our VolunTeen Program!

Contact us:

Email: volunteers@cincinnatizoo.org

Phone: 513-559-7755


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.