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.

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.

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 a 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

(Recruitment for the 2017 season is currently CLOSED. Applications are accepted from September 1st through October 31st each year. Please check back next fall for updated information.)

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 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.

Number of positions: 30-40

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)

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!

We are interested in recruiting volunteers for Wild Encounters Animal Stations and Wild Encounters Animal Handlers.  Please see this document for more details on position descriptions and hours requirements.

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), chat about our Kea (AM shifts) and our public feedings for the Camel Encounter (PM shifts).

Number of positions: 12-15

Required training: Volunteer Orientation, one session of Foundations of Interpretation- offered on 23-Feb, 4-Mar and 11-Mar from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m, additional role-specific training.

Wild Encounters Animal Handlers:
Every couple of years we are looking for new folks to join our team in the volunteer capacity as animal handlers. The program is very competitive and we require a hefty time commitment as well as a high level of dedication and proficiency in interpretation.

NOTE – The only way to join our Wild Encounters animal handling program is by first joining the team as a Wild Encounters Animal Stations volunteer.  See attached document for more details.

Number of positions: 4-5

Required training: Volunteer Orientation, one session of Foundations of Interpretation- offered on 23-Feb, 4-Mar and 11-Mar from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m, 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 assist keepers in implementation of enrichment for the Zoo animal collection. This includes but is not limited to: researching specific animal enrichment activities via appropriate sources, preparing lists of low cost materials needed for enrichment, assisting in the creation and implementation of animal enrichment activities. This is 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: 5-8

Required training: Zoo volunteer orientation and role-specific training. Training will occur on Thursdays and Saturdays, dates TBD.

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

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

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crewlogoCREW Volunteer Opportunities

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
  • Saving Species with Science Interpreter at the CREW facility
  • CREW Cart Interpreter at Rhino Reserve
  • Speaker’s Bureau/Building tour guide for pre-registered groups
  • Assisting keepers of the domestic cat colony with feeding, cleaning, and animal socializing

Selection Process and Training Requirements: Small group or individual interviews will be scheduled between November and January. Selected volunteers must complete Zoo Volunteer Orientation and role specific training (2017 role specific training dates are 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 side-bar 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: 2-3
Required training: Provided on an individual basis.

Saving Species with Science Encounter (SSS)
Volunteers welcome zoo visitors to SSS, which is located in the CREW building. This position requires the ability to talk to small groups of visitors regarding CREW’s history and to share CREW’s success stories in working with endangered species.

SSS is open May 1st through Labor Day, Wednesday – Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Generally, the hours are split between the outside barker cart/hook cart and inside the exhibit. The volunteer is required to work a minimum of 26 hours within the four-month period noted. A science background is not required.

Number of positions: 4-5
Required training: One session of Foundations of Interpretation- offered on 23-Feb, 4-Mar and 11-Mar from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. One session of SSS Training- offered on 23-Feb and 25-Mar.

volunteerCREW Educational Cart
The CREW cart volunteers play an important role in sharing CREW’s mission, Saving Species with Science, with guests at the zoo. When talking about CREW’s Signature Projects, volunteers use interpretative materials for educational interactions with guests.

CREW volunteers staff the cart from April through the October. The cart is open Monday – Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Volunteers must be able to commit to two shifts per month. A science background is not required

Number of positions: 8-10, weekend availability strongly preferred
Required training: One session of Foundations of Interpretation- offered on 23-Feb, 4-Mar and 11-Mar from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Both sessions of CREW Cart Training on 19-Mar and 25-Mar from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

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 in 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: 4-5
Required training: One session of Foundations of Interpretation- offered on 23-Feb, 4-Mar and 11-Mar from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. One session of Speakers Bureau training offered on 6-Feb and 20-Feb from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., and one session of Building Tours training on 8-Feb and 22-Feb from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Once all training has been successfully completed, volunteers will be paired with an experienced volunteer to shadow before being able to give presentations/tours on their own.

IMG_2970CREW Domestic Cat Colony
Volunteers must love domestic cats and enjoy working in a fast-paced, physical environment. Responsibilities include removing dirty bowls, litter pans, beds and toys from the cat rooms, cleaning everything thoroughly, and re-setting the rooms for the day.

This is a year-round volunteer opportunity and vacancies currently available are on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. Volunteers must commit to two shifts per month.

Number of positions: 4-5
Required training: Training 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: 4-5
Required training: Volunteers are required to attend three 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. 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

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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.

DanlogoDAN Insurance Policies

DAN Dive Travel Insurance

DAN Membership and Diving Insurance



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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 2017 season has 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 action through community service, then consider spending the day at the Zoo helping to maintain and beautify our gardens!

The Zoo’s world-class Botanical Garden is home to over 4,000 species of plants across 70 acres right in the heart of our city. This oasis filled with beautiful trees, shrubs, flowers, and water features provides food and shelter for a wide variety of local wildlife like birds, bees and butterflies. It’s also a place where people connect with nature, learn how to care for our natural resources, and make lasting memories. It takes a lot of effort to care for this lively, vibrant urban habitat, and we would love your help. If your organization is looking for opportunities to have fun while taking meaningful action through community service, then consider spending the day at the Zoo helping to maintain and beautify our gardens!

Groups of 20-50 volunteers work side-by-side with the experts on our Horticulture Team helping with general garden maintenance tasks like planting, mulching, weeding and raking. 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] or (513) 551-8220.