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,” check the appropriate information below.
Group Volunteer Opportunities
If your company or organization is looking for opportunities to have fun while taking meaningful conservation action through community service, then join us at the Zoo to participate in a variety of hands-on projects!
Groups have the opportunity to work with Zoo staff on various projects that could involve helping with gardening tasks like planting, mulching, weeding; helping the Zoo come to life for the epic Festival of Lights; contributing to the development of the Rockdale Urban Learning Garden; or working on projects at the beautiful Bowyer Farm.
Please note: we are currently booked for volunteer opportunities for the 2023 season. Check back in early 2024 to submit a request for our standard group volunteer opportunities!
Corporate groups and college groups over the age of 18. Please note, most volunteer activities take place outside and can require some light lifting, reaching, carrying, standing and walking throughout Zoo grounds.
Group size: Minimum of 8 and generally a maximum of 30. If your group is larger than 30, please note that on your project request form and we can discuss possible options.
*Volunteer events typically run on weekdays from 9am to 12:00pm*
- Festival of Lights: Join our maintenance department and help prepare for the amazing Festival of Lights! *This option has a maximum group size of 15 volunteers.
- Horticulture: Join our horticulture department in various gardening projects on or around Zoo grounds! *Runs from March to early November.
- Bowyer Farm: Join us at Bowyer Farm to work on projects such as wetland restoration, native species planting, or collecting browse for our animals friends to munch on at the Zoo!
ZooTeens (age 13-17)
The ZooTeen program is perfect for teenagers who love nature, animals, and people! ZooTeens build knowledge, gain leadership experience, and develop professional skills while having a lot of FUN working with our Education, Visitor Experience, or Horticulture departments. The summer volunteer period will be from May 27, 2024 – August 18, 2024.
ZooTeens have the opportunity to move through three different leadership tiers: Barn Owls, Red-tailed Hawks, and Bald Eagles.
First-year ZooTeens are placed in the Barn Owl tier. This tier focuses on developing public speaking skills, confidence, and animal knowledge by interpreting various Wild Discover Zones around the Zoo and working with Summer Camp!
- Requirements: 2 full-day weeks of camp, 1 half-day shift per week on non-camp weeks, and a minimum of 120 hours.
ZooTeens who advance to the Red-tailed Hawk tier gain additional opportunities to volunteer in the goat yard in Children’s Zoo, the Galapagos Tortoise Yard, and help coach Barn Owl ZooTeens.
- Requirements: 2 full day or half-day weeks of camp, 1 half-day shift per week on non-camp weeks and a minimum of 120 hours.
ZooTeens who advance to the Bald Eagle tier do all this and can have the opportunity to specialize their skills in focus areas such as environmental education, coaching peers, animal handling and interpretation, or research in our CREW division. Bald Eagle ZooTeens are expected to be leaders in the ZooTeen community through coaching the Barn Owl and Red-tailed Hawk tiers.
- Requirements: 1 full-day week of camp, 1 half-day shift per week on non-camp weeks, and a minimum of 84 hours.
We are committed to our teens and this experience, we ask that teens in the program also be committed to the Zoo and meet the following time requirements.
*These hours are minimums and can be exceeded, ZooTeens can serve up to 40 hours (including lunch) per week, if they choose.
Shifts for the ZooTeen program are 8am – 12pm and 12:30pm – 4:30pm for weekly days on non-camp weeks. In summer camp, the ZooTeen agrees to serve 8 am-4: 15 pm Monday-Friday.
ZooTeens who participate in the Buzz Troop track have the unique opportunity to assist our Horticulture Department in monitoring pollinators and participating in citizen science.
Buzz Troopers will work with Horticulture to gain insight on what areas they need pollinator photos and data throughout the Zoo’s gardens. Buzz Troopers should be passionate about pollinators and data. Camera and computer skills will be taught.
We are committed to our teens and this experience; we ask that teens in the program also be committed to the Zoo and meeting the following time requirements:
- Buzz Troopers are expected to complete one Buzz Troop shift per week during the summer season.
Shifts for the ZooTeen program are 8am – 12pm and 12:30pm – 4:30pm daily.
Qualities we look for when selecting ZooTeens:
- A genuine passion for nature and conservation
- A positive attitude and an inquisitive mind
- A willingness to learn and challenge yourself to do new things
- Reliable and able to commit to the hours required for the leadership tier for which you are selected
- Be available for one in-person group interview on one of the following Sunday or Monday dates:
- Sunday 10:00am – 12:00pm: 2/11, 2/18, 2/25, 3/3, 3/10, 3/17
- Monday 6:00pm – 8:00pm: 2/26, 3/4, 3/11
- Be 13 years of age by May 1, 2024
- Attend a two-part orientation and training dates for the position based on leadership tier
- New ZooTeens:
- Attend two days of Orientation, part 1 and part 2. Part 1 is offered on April 20 and 21. Part 2 is offered on May 18 and 19
- Returning Red-tailed Hawk and Bald Eagle ZooTeens:
- Role-based training dates will be announced in April
- New ZooTeens:
- Once accepted, contribute a non-refundable $15 program fee and purchase a Zoo uniform shirt for $25. Should this cause economic hardship, these fees may be waived; just let us know.
- Be able to receive important information via email and create a ZooTeen 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).
Our ZooTeen program is very popular so we are not able to accept all applicants into the program. If you are not selected this time, we encourage you to apply again next year! If you have been a ZooTeen in past years, that is NOT a guarantee that you will be selected this year. Notification of decisions will be sent via email on April 1, 2024.
The Summer 2024 application will be open online between December 1, 2023, and February 28, 2024.
To apply: Click Here
Please note that applications require an e-recommendation form from an adult who knows you well such as a teacher, scout leader, or employer, not a friend or relative. We will send the form via email to the person you name in your application so it’s a good idea to let them know that you have provided us with their email address and to keep an eye out for an email from the Zoo.
Contact us: [email protected]
Individual Volunteers (Age 18 and up)
We invite you to explore our programs below and consider joining us in our mission to Create Adventure, Convey Knowledge, Conserve Nature and Serve our Community.
- A passion for conserving wildlife and wild places
- A positive attitude and a willingness to learn
- Reliable and able to commit to the hours required for the program for which you are selected
- Be available for an interview with our staff
- At least 18 years of age.
- Attend a New Volunteer Orientation and additional department-specific training.
- Once accepted, purchase a Zoo uniform shirt for $30.
- Should this cause economic hardship, these fees may be waived, just let us know.
- Be able to receive important information via email and create an Adult Volunteer 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
Available Adult Volunteer Opportunities vary from month to month and will be updated on this page. If there is an area you are interested in, please continue to check back on this page for more information.
Please note: although you are surrounded by animals while volunteering at the zoo, our opportunities are not animal contact-focused. Please see our Internship Programs in Animal Care.
Adult Volunteer Opportunities
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. AE 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.
Recruitment Status: Not Accepting Applications at this time
CREW’s mission is Saving Species with Science. Channeling the strengths and expertise of the scientific staff, CREW takes a focused approach to wildlife conservation by identifying four areas, or Signature Projects, where we believe our impact can be significant. Volunteer opportunities include:
- Cat Colony
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. Socializing with the cats is a reward for all parties involved. This is a year-round volunteer position.
- Endocrine Lab
Volunteers in the Endocrine Lab are involved in the preparation of fecal samples used by the researchers for various modes of study. Responsibilities include, but not limited to, labeling tubes and bags, cleaning dried fecal samples, pounding fecal samples into a powder, and weighing them. This is a year-round volunteer position.
- Plant Division
Volunteers in the Plant Lab prepare various recipes of sterile media needed in the propagation of plant tissue or they may take part in the maintenance of the plants in the greenhouse. Responsibilities in the greenhouse may include plant sanitation, caring for young plants and helping with the outdoor exhibit gardens at CREW. This is a year-round volunteer position.
- Support Services/Reception Desk
Support Services 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. 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 volunteer position.
Recruitment Status: Not Accepting Applications at this time
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Education Department is seeking creative, enthusiastic, hardworking individuals with a passion for working with children and the public. Facilitators will be the first friendly face students and teachers see, helping them develop a sense of wonder and excitement for Zoo animals and their field trip experience. Facilitators will make school groups feel welcome and may help answer questions.
Arrival Facilitator Volunteer role: Click here to apply
Our team of dedicated Horticulture Volunteers keep our gardens looking great throughout the season and contribute to a variety of Horticulture Programs at the Zoo and its affiliated sites. Our volunteers complete a variety of tasks in the garden, grow plants in our nurseries, assist with plant sales, facilitate educational opportunities for visitors, collect data regarding plants and the wildlife they support, assist with restoration projects, and collect browse material to provide enrichment opportunities for the animals in our care.
Our Horticulture Volunteer season begins in March and continues through the end of November, though some opportunities are available year-round. Horticulture Volunteers typically pick one opportunity and day of the week to volunteer and come consistently on that day. Most volunteers contribute a minimum of 50 service hours per year. We ask that volunteers in this area have the ability to lift 30 lbs, stand or walk for extended periods of time, and bend/work on their knees frequently. Volunteers in Horticulture are often exposed to a variety of plant material and outside weather conditions.
- Garden Volunteer
Garden volunteers help keep the garden looking beautiful! Volunteers work alongside skilled interns and staff to maintain display gardens, perennial areas, and naturalized landscapes. Throughout the season, volunteers plant annuals, perennials, bulbs, and small shrubs and trees. Volunteers weed, water, mulch, rake leaves, and cut back perennials and ornamental grasses. Volunteers also assist with a variety of tasks in the nursery. These tasks include potting annual and perennial plugs, planting display containers, weeding, watering, fertilizing, pinching/cutting plants back, setting up for plant sales, and helping to load/unload plants onto carts and trailers. Garden Volunteers also have opportunities to help with garden events and plant sales throughout the season. Our volunteer gardening days are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings, March – November. Training for this opportunity begins in March.
- Garden Engagement Ambassador Volunteer
Our Garden Engagement Program strives to inspire visitors with plants and encourage individuals to take steps that promote conservation and co-existence between people and wildlife. Garden Engagement Volunteers actively engage visitors through activities, interpretive programing, educational displays, and other resources at our Gardening for Wildlife Station. Day to day activities for volunteers in this area include: facilitating activities and conversations that highlight the value of plants to people and other wildlife, sharing ideas about actions that individuals can take to promote and co-exist with wildlife, collecting plant specimens from the garden for live display, and setting up display areas, resources, and educational activities at the station. The ideal volunteer for this area will possess a passion for sharing information and engaging with the public, enthusiasm for public gardens and horticultural programs, and the desire to inspire people to take actions that promote conservation and co-existence between people and wildlife. Prior knowledge of plants, gardening, and/or horticulture is preferred, but training will be provided. Garden engagement opportunities are available most mornings and some afternoons, April – October. Training for this opportunity begins in March.
- Garden Volunteer at Rockdale Urban Garden
The Rockdale Urban Learning Garden is a newly created one-acre learning garden and outdoor classroom at Rockdale Academy, a Cincinnati Public Elementary School within two blocks of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. The site features a diverse array of plants and garden spaces including fruiting trees and shrubs, vegetable, herb, and pollinator gardens, sensory landscapes, plant trialing locations, an onsite propagation greenhouse, and two Quonset huts for growing. Volunteers onsite help to keep these garden and nursery spaces looking beautiful for the students and community by weeding, watering, replanting areas where plants have failed to thrive, potting plugs, mulching, deadheading, and much more! Our garden volunteers at Rockdale meet on Wednesday mornings, March – November. Training for this opportunity begins in March.
- Pollinator Watch Volunteer
The CZBG Pollinator Watch program is dedicated to observing and understanding relationships between plants and the pollinators that they support. Volunteers in the CZBG Pollinator Watch program receive in-depth training to enable them to confidently walk through the gardens and collect data regarding pollinator activity on particular blooming plants. This data is then analyzed by Horticulture staff and institutional partners to educate our visitors and members of the green industry. Participants are asked to collect data on a weekly basis throughout the season. We are looking for individuals to collect data from the gardens at the Zoo as well as at the Rockdale Urban Learning Garden, a one-acre outdoor classroom associated with Cincinnati Public Schools, located within two blocks of the Zoo. Pollinator Watch opportunities are available every day as weather permits, March – October. Training for this opportunity begins in March.
- Bowyer Wetland & Nursery Volunteer (located in Warren County)
Bowyer Farm is a wetland restoration project in Warren County, Ohio. The site is host to our native plant nursery and additional growing facilities. Volunteers at Bowyer have opportunities to undertake a variety of tasks including: potting, transplanting, and caring for plants in the nursery, maintaining the gardens and landscape onsite, assisting with native plant sales, participating in wetland and prairie planting and restoration projects, conducting wildlife surveys, and more!
Are you passionate about creating meaningful moments and making a positive impact on the lives of people from around the world? The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (CZBG) invites individuals like you to join our dedicated team in the Visitor Experience Department. As a volunteer, you’ll have the opportunity to contribute to an INSPIRED Visitor Experience by engaging with visitors at various stations throughout the Zoo. From welcoming guests at our turnstiles to assisting with directions and group entrance, your role will encompass a diverse range of tasks.
Your responsibilities may include warmly greeting visitors, providing helpful information, offering suggestions for day planning, assisting with crowd flow, and even engaging in enjoyable activities with families. Join us in creating genuine connections and unforgettable moments for hundreds of thousands of people, not only from the Greater Cincinnati area but from all corners of the globe!
Inspired Greeter Volunteer role: Click here to apply
Have you ever dreamed about helping the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden assist the animals in our care? The volunteer SCUBA divers provide valuable support to our keepers and the animals by helping to maintain exhibits to the high standards required by the American Zoological Association (AZA).
Our volunteer divers must meet CZBG and OSHA safety qualifications/requirements, including:
- Certified Open Water Diver
- PADI, NAUI, SSI, YMCA, etc…
- 1-Year Experience Minimum
- 25 Dive Minimum
- Current Documentation
- CPR/First Aid/AED Certification
- COVID Vaccination and Booster, including the bivariant booster
- TB Test with Negative Result within the Last year*
- Medical History Form and Doctor’s Clearance*
- Liability Waiver*
* Forms will be provided upon acceptance into the program.
Recruitment Status: Currently Accepting Volunteer Diver Applications.
Our dedicated Team of Zoo Ambassadors act as representatives and promotors of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Whether it’s helping someone find their way or supporting an animal experience, our Zoo Ambassadors have a warm, welcoming presence and are passionate about creating special moments during a visitor’s fun day at the Zoo.
Zoo Ambassadors can be found in 4 different areas:
CREW Ambassadors: Click here to apply
Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife, (CREW), defines its mission as Saving Species with Science®. CREW takes a focused approach to wildlife conservation through its four Signature Projects: rhinos, imperiled cats, polar bears, and exceptional plants. The role of the CREW Ambassador is to bridge the science and conservation efforts taken by CREW and present them in a way that engages and inspires Zoo guests. CREW Ambassadors have access to biofacts, hands-on activities, and captivating stories to share with all those who stop by the CREW cart, which is located near Black Rhino.
Garden Engagement Ambassador Volunteer
Our Garden Engagement Program strives to inspire visitors with plants and encourage individuals to take steps that promote conservation and co-existence between people and wildlife. Garden Engagement Volunteers actively engage visitors through activities, interpretive programming, educational displays, and other resources at our Gardening for Wildlife Station. Day-to-day activities for volunteers in this area include: facilitating activities and conversations that highlight the value of plants to people and other wildlife, sharing ideas about actions that individuals can take to promote and co-exist with wildlife, collecting plant specimens from the garden for live display, and setting up display areas, resources, and educational activities at the station. The ideal volunteer for this area will possess a passion for sharing information and engaging with the public, enthusiasm for public gardens and horticultural programs, and the desire to inspire people to take actions that promote conservation and co-existence between people and wildlife. Prior knowledge of plants, gardening, and/or horticulture is preferred, but training will be provided.
Habitat Ambassadors encourage wonder and facilitate inspired conversations for a brighter future for wildlife and people. Habitat Ambassadors can be found stationed in one of our four designated habitats (Africa, Elephant Reserve, Gorilla World, Manatee Springs) as well as serving our volunteers in a rover roll around Zoo Grounds. Ambassadors engage with visitors through quality interpretive techniques and use story sharing, biofacts, and hands-on activities to make deeper connections between Zoo visitors and the world around us.
Working with the Wild Encounters program, you will have the opportunity to have hands-on experience in several different visitor engagement areas. The goal of this unique department is to create genuine and memorable experiences for our visitors by bringing them “close enough to care” through animal stations, interactions, and chats.
Recruitment Status: Now accepting applications for the CREW Ambassador role.
Our Zoo Ambassador Volunteer program is very popular and we do not have enough opportunities to accommodate all who want to participate. Notification of decision is sent via email.