Skip to main content

How to Be a Zoo Volunteer


Attend Informational Meeting

Class: New Volunteer Orientation
check back for 2023 dates




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


Pay Fees/Dues

Pay Volunteer Fees Here

Already a Zoo volunteer? Log in here.

Phone: (805) 962-5339, ext. 153

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 on food 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.

Jr. Camp Counselor Application
Teen Conservation Club Application

Teen Volunteer Opportunities

Jr. Camp Counselor

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. Summer Zoo Camp runs from June 12 to August 18.

    • Shift: Monday – Friday 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM
    • Must volunteer for a minimum of three 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.

Application process:

  • Submit application and reference letter
  • Group interviews on April 29 and May 6
  • Training in late May and early June

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

Teen Conservation Club

Teen Conservation Club (TCC) is a teen-run club that works with the Santa Barbara Zoo to create awareness of local environmental issues and participate in conservation activities.

TCC’s mission is to connect teens to conservation by working with the Zoo and the public to help the environment. TCC educates people about what they can do to conserve resources and protect our planet and provides conservation opportunities to teens to increase their awareness about environmental issues.


  • Participate in monthly conservation activity
  • Attend 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!

How Do I Start Volunteering?

FIll out the application for the volunteer opportunity of your choice below.

Docent Application
Keeper Aide Application

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 to the Volunteer Office on an annual basis.
  • 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.
  • Prospective volunteers must pass each training course with an 80% success rate or better in order to move on to the next part.

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 (typically 8 AM – 12 PM)
  • Must be able to submit a negative tuberculosis (TB) test to the Volunteer Office on an annual basis.
  • Must be able to clear a Department of Justice (DOJ) background check.
  • Must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
  • Must be able to comply with Zoo dress code.
  • 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 AM – 12 PM (or 7 – 11 AM) for five weeks. Regular, ongoing schedules are discussed after evaluations.


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.

Upcoming Events

There are no special event volunteer opportunities at this time. Please check back later.

Special Event Volunteer Qualifications

Are you:

  • 13 years or older
  • Able to attend an event-specific orientation (required for Boo at the Zoo)
  • Willing to work with people of all ages
  • Ready to have fun!

Annual events include:

  • Snow Leopard Festival (January)
  • Princess and Pirate Weekend (March)
  • Boo at the Zoo (October)

Find specific dates on the Zoo’s event calendar. Please note: volunteer shifts differ from public event hours.

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.

500 Ninos Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93103