Horticulture garden planting
Child looking at spiny tailed lizard
Keeper showing snake to visitors
Keepers walking Flamingos through zoo
Keeper letting child pet lizard
Keeper showing snake to children
Duke Energy Volunteers at the Zoo!

Group Volunteer Opportunities

If your 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 hands-on projects on our grounds or at our farm.

Groups have the opportunity to work with Zoo staff on various projects that could involve helping with horticulture tasks like planting, mulching, weeding; helping the Zoo come to life for the epic Festival of Lights; contributing to the development of the brand-new Rockdale Urban Learning Garden; or working on projects at the beautiful Bowyer Farm. It will be fun, informative and your valuable time will be well-spent!

Submit a Request!


Who can join?

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.

What can we do?

*Volunteer events typically run from 8:30am 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.

Available Days: Tuesdays and Wednesdays (September and October)

  • Horticulture: Join our horticulture department in various gardening projects on or around Zoo grounds!

Available Days: Tuesdays and Thursdays (March through early December)

  • Bowyer FarmJoin 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!

Available Days: Wednesdays and Fridays (Year-round)

How does it work?

Click here to submit your service project request and see available dates to serve alongside the departments noted above. We will respond to your request within five business days!

Service hour credits

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

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

Cincinnati ZooTeens

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 upcoming summer volunteer period will be May 30th, 2022 – August 14th, 2022.

As of January 25th, 2022, the Cincinnati Zoo will require proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 for all summer ZooTeen participants by May 30, 2022. Further details will be discussed with those accepted into the program.

Click here to learn about the Education and Visitor Experience track:

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! ZooTeens who advance to the Red-tailed Hawk tier gain the additional opportunity to volunteer in the goat yard in Children’s Zoo, the Galapagos Tortoise Yard, and help coach Barn Owl ZooTeens. 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.

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.

Barn OwlsRed-tailed HawksBald Eagles
• 2 full day weeks of camp
• 1 half day shift per week on non-camp weeks
• 2 full day OR half day weeks of camp
• 1 half day shift per week on non-camp weeks
• 1 full day week of camp
• 1 half day shift per week on non-camp weeks
Minimum Requirement: 120 hours Minimum Requirement: 120 hours Minimum Requirement: 84 hours

*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 8 am-12 pm and 1 pm-5 pm for weekly days on non-camp weeks.  When in summer camp, the ZooTeen agrees to serve 8 am-4: 15 pm Monday-Friday.

Click here to learn about the Plant and Pollinator track:

ZooTeens on the Plant and Pollinator track have the unique opportunity to help in the gardens on our spectacular grounds! Plant and Pollinator ZooTeens work alongside our Horticulture Department staff helping with monitoring pollinators and other various activities throughout the Zoo’s gardens.

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.


ZooTeen Qualities, Requirements, and Application Information:

These are some of the 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

ZooTeens must also meet the following requirements:

  • Be available for an in-person interview with our staff
  • Be between the age of 13 and 17 by May 1, 2022
  • Attend a two-part orientation and training dates for the position based on leadership tier
    • All ZooTeens:
      • Orientation ONE dates: TBD – April 2022
      • Orientation TWO dates: TBD- May 2022
    • Returning Red-tailed Hawk and Bald Eagle ZooTeens:
      • Position-based training dates and times for 2022 TBD
    • Once accepted, contribute a non-refundable $15 program fee and purchase a Zoo uniform shirt for $15. 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 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.  If you have been a ZooTeen in past years, that is NOT a guarantee that you will be selected this year. Notification of decision is sent via email on April 1, 2022.

The Summer 2022 application is closed. The Summer 2023 application will be open online between December 1, 2022, and February 28, 2023.  

Contact us: [email protected]

Volunteer Opportunities

Our Adult Volunteers are an important part of making the Zoo extra special when you come to visit! Check out available opportunities below to see if serving at the Zoo is the right fit for you. If you have any other questions about the program, you can email the volunteer coordinator at [email protected].


If you are interested in corporate or one-day opportunities, please check out the Group Opportunities tab.

Animal Enrichment

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 new volunteers at this time.

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

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 new volunteers at this time.

Horticulture

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 late-March/early April 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.

  • 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.
  • Garden Engagement Volunteer
    • Garden Engagement volunteers strive to inspire visitors through plants and the wonders of the garden. At present, these volunteers use passive educational techniques to showcase blooming plants that can be found within the garden. Volunteers walk the grounds to harvest an assortment of blooms from annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees to display on our “What’s Blooming Ladder.” These volunteers also make sure that all blooms displayed on the ladder are labeled correctly based on the labels that are displayed within the garden. In the future, we hope to bring active engagement opportunities back to the garden. When we are able to do this, volunteers will utilize educational activities to engage visitors, highlight the value of diversity in the landscape, promote gardening for wildlife, and inspire conservation action.
  • 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!
  • 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 particularly looking for individuals to collect data at the Rockdale Urban Learning Garden, a one-acre outdoor classroom associated with Cincinnati Public Schools, located within two blocks of the Zoo. This newly created garden contains a diverse array of plants including perennials, annuals, herbs, and fruiting trees & shrubs, and is an ideal location for us to expand our data collection efforts. There will also be opportunities to collect data from the gardens within the Zoo.
  • Horticulture Browse Collection Volunteer
    • The CZBG Browse Program contributes to the overall health and well-being of the animals in our care by providing them with plant material for enrichment purposes. Horticulture Browse Volunteers work alongside knowledgeable horticulturists to identify, harvest, and process acceptable plant material in the field. Volunteers use loppers and handsaws to cut, sort, and package this material for transport and delivery. Browse volunteers occasionally work alongside teen volunteers as browse is collected and processed. Additional tasks may include planting small trees for future browse harvests and boxing browse for winter storage at the Zoo.

Recruitment Status: Not accepting new volunteers at this time.

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:

  • 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
  • Fully vaccinated
  • 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

Documentation must be provided prior to the interview when opportunities are available

Recruitment StatusNot accepting new volunteers at this time.

Zoo Ambassadors

Zoo Ambassador Volunteers can be found at multiple locations around the Zoo fostering wonder and facilitating inspired conversations with visitors in support of a brighter future for wildlife and people. Whether it’s helping someone find their way to 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.

Recruitment StatusCheck back soon for additional information & opportunities available for the 2022 season.

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