Volunteer at the Zoo

Currently accepting applications for teen volunteers. Adult volunteer program is on hold until further notice.

How to Be a Zoo Volunteer

Choose One:


Attend Informational Meeting

Class: New Volunteer Orientation
Next class dates TBD




Check out the volunteer options below, and click the links for the appropriate application.


Pay Fees/Dues

Adult Fees/Dues
Teen Fees

Already a Zoo volunteer? Log in here.

Phone: (805) 962-5339, ext. 153
Email: volunteer@sbzoo.org

Teen Volunteer Opportunities

Do you have an interest in animals and the environment? Do you have the desire and ability to teach others? Then the ZooTeen Program may be the place for you! ZooTeens create outstanding experiences that inspire people to change the world by supporting the Education, Guest Services, and Marketing departments.

Benefits include:

  • Earning community service hours.
  • Visiting behind-the-scenes areas of the Zoo.
  • Discounts in the gift shop and food court while volunteering.

How do I Start Volunteering?

Fill out a teen volunteer application to get on the volunteer wailtist by clicking the link below, and provide a letter of reference.

New JCC Volunteer Application
Returning JCC Volunteer Application

Current Teen Volunteer Opportunities

Jr. Camp Counselor (JCC)

Jr. Camp Counselors act as aides to Zoo Camp counselors during seasonal Zoo Camp sessions. They lead songs, play games, and assist young campers with arts and crafts while ensuring their safety.

2022 DATES
Training: June 4 from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM at the Zoo
Summer Camp is June 6 – August 19

    • Shift: Monday – Friday 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM
    • Must volunteer for a minimum of four weeks of camp, but weeks do not have to be consecutive.


  • Must be current junior high or high school student.
  • Must submit one reference letter from an adult who is not a family member.
  • Must be able to attend all training sessions.
  • Must enjoy working with young children and be willing to act silly during games and while singing songs.
  • Be responsible for the safety and care of younger children.
  • Be able to take direction and work as part of a team.

There is an $85 tuition fee for the Jr. Camp Counselor program, payable upon acceptance.

New JCC Volunteer Application
Returning JCC Volunteer Application
Reference Letter Submission Form

Teen Conservation Club

A select group of teens leads conservation initiatives in the tri-counties area.


  • Participate in monthly conservation activity
  • Attend bi-monthly meetings

Teen Conservation Club Application

Adult Volunteer Opportunities

Are you genuinely interested in animals, people, nature, and conservation? Do you enjoy learning and teaching others? Would you like to make new friends and professional contacts? Do you want to have fun? Attend a New Volunteer Orientation to learn about the many volunteer options available at your local Zoo and get involved in your community! Please complete an online application today to sign up for a New Volunteer Orientation!

Adult Volunteer Opportunities

Docent (Volunteer Educator)

Santa Barbara Zoo Docents are volunteer teachers who share their knowledge of the Zoo and the natural world connecting with our guests, interpreting exhibits, running activities, using bio-facts and kits, leading tours, participating in observational research, and assisting with children’s programs and special events. Docents undergo an in-depth training offered only twice a year, on topics such as interpretation, natural history, ecology, botany, conservation, and the history of the Zoo. Hundreds of people have donated their time and talent to the Docent program since 1963.


  • Must be 18 years or older.
  • Strong public speaking and exceptional customer service skills are essential.
  • Must be available to volunteer for at least two hours a week.
  • Must be able to submit a negative tuberculosis (TB) test on an annual basis to the Volunteer Office.
  • Must be able to clear a Department of Justice (DOJ) background check.
  • Please be aware that once training is finished, this program requires a minimum commitment of six months.

Keeper Aide

Volunteers perform duties as required for the care and maintenance of Zoo exhibits. Maintenance activities include scrubbing and hosing enclosures, removing trash, and assisting keepers with various projects. Requirements:


  • Must be 18 years or older.
  • Must be able to lift 50 pounds and perform physically demanding tasks (such as scrubbing and raking) repeatedly for long periods of time.
  • Must be available to volunteer for a four-hour shift once a week. Shifts are:
    8 a.m. – noon (During Fall and Winter)
  • Must be able to submit a negative tuberculosis (TB) test on an annual basis to the Volunteer Office.
  • Must be able to comply with Zoo dress code.
  • Training includes:
    Three on-site classes – Prospective volunteers must pass each class with an 80% success rate or better in order to move on to the next part.
    Five weeks of shadowing keepers– Volunteers must be able to come in once a week from 8 a.m. – noon (or 7 – 11 a.m.) for five weeks. Regular, ongoing schedules are discussed after evaluations.

Guest Services Aide

Guest Services volunteers enhance the guest experience by assisting guest services staff with customer service operations. Duties include greeting guests, collecting train tickets, giraffe deck line management, and answering frequently asked questions.


  • Friendly, outgoing, and enjoy speaking with people
  • Strong customer service skills

Administrative Aide

Volunteers perform a variety of office duties including data entry, filing, copying, and preparing mailings. Administrative volunteers work on flexible schedules with on-the-job training.


  • Experience working in an office environment is preferred.
  • Attention to detail and accuracy are important.

Browse Garden

Volunteers perform duties as required for the care and maintenance of Zoo grounds, such as weeding and litter removal. Browse garden volunteers work on flexible schedules with on-the-job training.


  • Ability to perform work outside; bending repeatedly and working on one’s knees is necessary.
  • Ability to identify different plants is desirable.


No internships are currently available.

Event Volunteer

Short-term volunteers assist with the success of many zoo events. These volunteers participate in one-day opportunities staffing games, activities, greeting guests at the front gate, and even dressing up as some of the Zoo’s most beloved characters.

Available Events

  • Boo at the Zoo in October 2022

Specific dates for upcoming events are located on the Santa Barbara Zoo’s event calendarPlease note: volunteer shifts differ from public event hours.


  • Be 13 years or older
  • Be able to attend an event-specific orientation (required for Boo at the Zoo)
  • Enjoy working with people of all ages
  • Be ready to have fun!

How can I sign up?

Email the volunteer office for information regarding specific events.

Group Volunteer Opportunities

Would your company or club like to volunteer their time at the Zoo? We can set up a volunteer day just for you!


Most of our group projects take place assisting our horticulture, grounds, and maintenance staff. These projects may include invasive plant removal, litter removal, weed control, painting, mulching plant beds, and other various tasks.


  • Groups must have a minimum of 10 individuals for a 4-hour shift.
  • Volunteers must be at least 13 years old.
  • Groups with volunteers under the age of 18 must provide one adult for every five minors.
  • Group volunteers must identify a Group Coordinator who is responsible for the safety and well-being of group members who provides coordination and supervision for the group while volunteering, ensures all members adhere to Zoo rules and procedures, and obtains a consent form signed by a parent or guardian for each group member under the age of 18.

Volunteer Benefits

Benefits for Active Long-Term Volunteers

  • Free individual admission to the Zoo during regular business hours
  • Continuing education programs to gain new skills, knowledge, and personal enrichment
  • Lunch and Learn opportunities
  • National Volunteer Week celebration and other volunteer recognition events
  • Access to the Zoo library
  • A 10% discount at the Zoo Gift Store and restaurant facilities. You must show your name badge at the time of purchase
  • Free parking in the Zoo’s parking lot except weekends and holidays (applies also to volunteers who do have a Zoo membership)
  • Membership benefits (see below)

Zoo Membership Benefits for Long-term Volunteers

Adult Volunteers

  • 50 hours annually: commemorative annual volunteer pin
  • 80 hours annually: two guest passes or an Individual SB Zoo Membership
  • 150 hours annually: six guest passes or a Family SB Zoo Membership
  • 300 hours annually: Supporting SB Zoo Membership

Teen Volunteers

  • 90 hours annually: commemorative annual volunteer pin
  • 100 hours annually: two guest passes
  • 150 hours annually: six guest passes
  • 250 hours annually: Family SB Zoo Membership
  • 400 hours annually: Supporting SB Zoo Membership

All Volunteers

  • Any volunteer who completes 5,000 hours in their lifetime and is not inactive for more than five cumulative years will receive a Golden (50-year) SB Zoo Membership.