Volunteering at the Zoo
Volunteer for the Zoo!
- Are you looking for a way to give back to the Saint Louis community?
- Do you have a passion for sharing the Zoo’s mission to protect the world’s animals and preserve natural places?
- Are you looking for a flexible, fun and engaging volunteer opportunity?
Simply put! Is the Zoo your happy place?
The Saint Louis Zoo welcomes enthusiastic volunteers who have a love for animals and a passion for serving the people of our community. Zoo volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and bring a variety of experience, knowledge and skill to the Zoo's operations. Of course, no prior experience is necessary -- we'll teach you what you need to know.
Whether you have just a few hours each month to spare, or are looking for a new avenue in life, there is a home for you at the Zoo. Volunteers support the Zoo’s mission by educating guests, assisting with wayfinding around the Zoo, helping with special events and participating in countless other programs.
Each year, our volunteers contribute over 100,000 hours of service, for which we are incredibly thankful. Click on the opportunities below to see which is right for you.
- Represent and share the Zoo’s mission by encouraging the support and enriching the experience of our visitors.
- Be at least 18 years of age (See Teen Programs for ages 15-18 below).
- Commit to volunteering for at least one year.
- Give a minimum of 30 hours of service per year.
- Submit a formal application and pass a background screen check. These materials will be provided to you via email after an initial introductory phone call.
- Attend a 30 minute interview and required trainings (provided free of charge by the Zoo).
- All volunteers will participate in a one-day Volunteer Orientation. Orientations are held in the early spring, summer and fall.
- Additional training may be required based on program interest.
- Free volunteer parking
- Discounts on food and retail purchases
- Monthly lectures by Animal Division or Education staff
- Opportunities to attend trainings and participate in committees
- Annual Volunteer Appreciation Event
- Volunteer awards for service milestones
- Knowledge that you contributed to the Zoo’s mission!
Steps to Become a Volunteer
- Browse our volunteer program descriptions.
- Give us a call at (314) 646-4670. The Volunteer Services department is happy to share more information on program details, upcoming training opportunities and requirements, and learn how you would like to contribute to the Zoo’s mission.
- After the introductory phone call, we will send you a link to schedule your volunteer interview, along with the volunteer application.
- Attend volunteer interview and pass a background screen check.
- Upon acceptance, attend required volunteer orientation and applicable trainings.
Want to try out volunteering before applying? Check out our Events information below. Volunteering for an upcoming event is a great way to see what being a Zoo volunteer is like!
Click on the opportunities below to see which is right for you.
Ambassadors make the Saint Louis Zoo the friendliest place in town! As an Ambassador volunteer, you will serve the public throughout grounds by providing essential visitor information, and giving recommendations to the Zoo’s award-winning exhibits, amenities and unique attractions. Ambassadors can also be trained to share the Zoo’s over 100-year history!
“Being an Ambassador is so awesome! We are the meet and greet arm of the Zoo. It is so interesting meeting people from all over the country- and even the world. Visitors appreciate our help in giving directions to animals, buildings and attractions. Ambassador hours are super flexible- come any day and stay however long you want. Work in one spot giving directions or roam the Zoo helping people. If you are someone who enjoys people, loves the Zoo and has a busy life; being an Ambassador is a great fit for you!” – Sue, Ambassador Volunteer
Spend your days in a tropical paradise! The Saint Louis Zoo's Bayer Insectarium Mary Ann Lee Butterfly Wing is a geodesic dome filled with tropical plants, rock outcroppings, a waterfall and pool. As a Butterfly Wing volunteer, you will help to keep butterflies safe and interact with guests to further their appreciation for our invertebrate and plant species. Volunteers can choose their own 2-hour shifts Monday through Sunday. Volunteers have the option to sit or stand.
Do you love animals and people? Would you like to be a part of the Saint Louis Zoo's efforts to help our guests and the greater community understand and appreciate nature? Then consider becoming a Saint Louis Zoo docent.
Docents, managed by the Zoo's Education Department, are volunteer educators and interpreters. They engage Zoo guests and school groups through conversation, tours on site and at community events about animals, the natural world and our conservation work. Choose a schedule that works for you! Specialized training and on-going continuing education is required. Docents serve 37 hours or more per year depending on chosen commitment level. CLICK HERE for more information.
“Working with our Education Volunteers, Docents, is such fun. Every day I have the privilege of getting to know these wonderful and dedicated group of people who are funny, smart, and great team members.” - Hannah Phillips, Docent & Interpretation Manager
The Zoo hosts events and fundraisers throughout the year that require hundreds of volunteers. Event volunteers help with everything from greeting guests, engaging families and children with creative games and crafts, to assisting food and drink vendors as bar backs. We encourage you to “try out” volunteering at one of our upcoming events!
“Volunteers make our department run smooth and efficiently on event days. They act as extensions of our team and help us ensure that our events run as effortlessly as possible. As a small department, we simply could not execute our events without volunteers! Their dedication and passion is unmatched! They care so strongly about our Zoo and our mission that their joy is contagious!” – Special Events Department
Help visitors take a piece of the Zoo home! As a Safari Gift Shop volunteer, you will assist Zoo staff with greeting customers, stocking merchandise and helping guests with their selections. With a wide variety of handcrafted items that help to fund conservation efforts, to jewelry, Zoo apparel and plush toys, our volunteers ensure visitors find the perfect souvenir or gift for any occasion. Volunteers work with gift shop staff to choose their own shifts with a Monday through Sunday schedule.
“Volunteers make a difference in the Gift Shop because they provide the “icing on the cake.” Staff can do the basics but the Volunteers come in and assist with all the details in the stores. It truly takes a team, and they are a very important part of our team! They bring so much diversity to the Zoo, and these different perspectives are so important to the overall Zoo experience. They help make us one of the best Zoos in the world!” – Tommy Brown, Retail Manager
Is your organization or group looking for a fun and rewarding service project? Opportunities and availability vary based on Zoo needs, but may include special events, event preparations, gardening, and other projects.
- The Zoo cannot guarantee volunteer placement. Volunteer opportunities and availability vary based on Zoo needs.
- Volunteer activities are designed for groups of 10-25 people, and typically take 2-3 hours.
- All volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and must be members of your group/organization.
- There are no opportunities to work with animals.
- A list of participants must be sent to the Zoo at least 1 week in advance of the activity.
- Each participant will need to complete a volunteer emergency contact and waiver form.
- In the event of inclement weather, the Zoo will attempt to reschedule your volunteer day but cannot guarantee this will be possible.
Please complete the inquiry form at least 8 weeks in advance of your requested service date. Upon submission of the form, Zoo staff will reach out to you regarding volunteer opportunities.
Join the ranks of our knowledgeable and welcoming volunteers at the Saint Louis Zoo! Located in the center of the Zoo’s campus in Schnuck Family Plaza, the Guest Relations Booth is the information hub, helping visitors get the most out of their day at the Zoo. Working alongside a Guest Services employee, Guest Relations Booth volunteers greet Zoo visitors, provide directions, answer the Zoo’s information phone line, and enhance visitor experience of the Zoo and Saint Louis.
We ask that our Guest Relations Booth Volunteers have at least one year of Zoo volunteer experience, problem solving skills, and a passion for sharing information on our amenities and unique attractions. 3.5 hours shifts in the morning and afternoon are available March-October. Volunteers have the option to sit or stand.
“Volunteers in the Guest Relations Booth partner with Zoo employees to provide answers pertaining to the Zoo and the local area. Their impact and good will can be felt throughout the St. Louis community. When a visitor has a question or needs directions, they come to Guest Relations. Between the volunteer and employee, we can answer anything!” - Vincent Correnti, Assistant Manager, Guest Relations
The Saint Louis Zoo provides college students, recent graduates and individuals with prior college coursework an opportunity to learn about the Zoo's zoological operations while obtaining valuable, hands-on work experience and an understanding of the Zoo's role in research and conservation.
Internships and externships are available in:
- Animal Management Areas
- Non-Animal Related Areas
Over 30 departments to choose from!
Visit our Internships and Externships page to learn more and apply to become a Saint Louis Zoo intern or extern today!
Share in the St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Zoo’s commitment to the health and well-being of children and families in our community as a First Aid volunteer. Greet and provide nonmedical assistance to visitors as they utilize the Zoo’s family restroom, lactation room and first aid supplies such as Band-Aids and bee sting kits. 3.5 hours shifts in the morning and afternoon are available all year round. Volunteers have the option to sit or stand.
“First Aid Station volunteers are the first line in assisting our visitors when entering the station - whether a family needs the family restroom, a mom needs to pump or breastfeed, of if someone needs to see a Medic. Our First Aid volunteers are amazing because they care and consistently go above and beyond.” - Domini Montgomery, Manager, Safety & Risk Management
Help to ensure our visitors have an incredible experience on an animal tour as they see and learn about our animals up close and personal! Our volunteer Tour Guides lead groups to their behind-the-scene locations, and are trained to share zoo history, our mission and information about animal husbandry with visitors from all over the world. We ask that our Tour Guides have at least one year of Zoo volunteer experience, great communications skills and a passion for sharing our mission.
“Volunteers are the front line for meeting our tour groups. They are the first face our guests see. They are thrilled to meet our guests and show them just how extraordinary we are as a zoo. Our Tour Guide volunteers are amazing because they are fun, energetic and knowledgeable about the Zoo. My favorite part about working with volunteers is sharing their enthusiasm! They work so hard and take on every task with pride.” - Mandi Nordin, Group Tours Agent
The Saint Louis Zoo offers two volunteer opportunities for teens, ages 15-18.
Zoo ALIVE volunteers are high school students who help with our summer camps and many other education programs and activities all year long. They help lead crafts, games and activities for children and Zoo guests, contribute to conservation projects, learn about animals and wildlife conservation through opportunities at the Zoo and more. Minimum age is 15 by June 1, 2023. Click here for detailed information.
Do you want to contribute to the Zoo’s mission this summer? Do you want to learn more about conservation, Zoo animals and Zoo careers? Do you need to complete service hours for your school? Share your knowledge and passion with our guests by joining the ZooTeens program!
ZooTeens is a summer volunteer program for teens, ages 15-18. Teens will have opportunities to volunteer in the following areas throughout the summer. In each role, teens will learn about conservation and share information with our guests.
- In the Bayer Insectarium/Mary Ann Lee Butterfly Wing, ZooTeens keep our butterflies and guests safe and engage with guests to further their appreciation for invertebrates and our sustainability initiatives.
- Junior Ambassadors help make the Saint Louis Zoo the friendliest place in town! ZooTeens greet guests in Schnuck Family Plaza and give directions to the Zoo’s award-winning exhibits, amenities and unique attractions.
- Junior Docents volunteer in the Education department. They are paired with an adult education volunteer at different animal habitats engaging with Zoo guests about our animals, conservation stories and nature. ZooTeens will meet others who share their interests and enthusiasm, learn more about our Zoo work and expand their knowledge!
- At Safari Gift Shop, ZooTeens volunteer in a fun, fast-paced environment. They help the store look its best by working with gift shop employees to stock merchandise, create displays and welcome guests. ZooTeens help the Zoo provide funding for the animals, all while learning valuable retail skills for their future.
- Minimum age of 15 by May 13, 2023.
- Ideal volunteers have a passion for the Zoo’s mission, an interest in learning and sharing knowledge and an energetic, service-oriented attitude.
- Attendance at both volunteer orientation on May 13, 2023, and volunteer training on May 20, 2023, is mandatory.
- Volunteer throughout the summer (late May-early August, depending on school schedule). Teens are expected to complete at least 30 total service hours. Teens will sign up for volunteer shifts that match their interests and availability. Shifts are available each day and are typically 2-4 hours
Steps to volunteer:
- Work with your parent/guardian to complete the online ZooTeens volunteer application and schedule your interview by CLICKING HERE. All interviews must take place by April 1. Please note that limited interview spots are available.
- Attend a volunteer interview and pass a background screen check.
- All applicants will be notified by email of acceptance status after the April 1 deadline. This program is limited to 20 teens.
- Upon acceptance, attend mandatory volunteer orientation and training.
- Teens will learn from experts in the field of education, conservation and animal welfare.
- Teens will improve communication skills as they share knowledge and their own personal connections to the Zoo and animals with our guests.
- This program is meant to foster a group of conservation-minded Zoo supporters and potential future employees.
ZooTeens Frequently Asked Questions
What is the age requirement?
- The minimum age is 15 by Volunteer Orientation date.
What is the volunteer commitment?
- Teens are expected to complete at least 30 total service hours. Teens may begin or end volunteer service on different dates based on the school schedule, but attendance at orientation and training is mandatory. Teens will sign up for volunteer shifts that match their interests and availability throughout the summer. Shifts are available each day and are typically 2-4 hours.
Do you provide parking?
- Yes, we provide free parking on the Zoo parking lots for volunteers.
Do I have to wear a uniform?
- Yes, teens must wear the volunteer uniform during all volunteer shifts. Volunteers are required to wear a solid white polo shirt, blouse or sweater, with khaki pants, shorts or skirt, along with a volunteer name tag and volunteer lanyard.
How can I learn more?
- If you have additional questions, call Volunteer Services at (314) 781-0900, ext. 4670
If you have questions about becoming a Saint Louis Zoo Volunteer, contact Volunteer Services at (314) 646-4670.