Volunteer Opportunities

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How to Be a Zoo Volunteer

Choose One:

1. Attend Informational Meeting

Class: New Volunteer Orientation

September 23, 9 a.m.–noon
September 30, 9 a.m.–noon

Location: Discovery Pavilion

2. Contact the Volunteer Office

• Phone: (805) 962-5339, ext. 153

• Email: volunteer@sbzoo.org

• Snail mail:
Santa Barbara Zoo
500 Niños Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

3. Apply Online

Already a Zoo volunteer? Log in here.

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!

Current Opportunities

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.

Requirements:

  • 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.

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:

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 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. 

Requirements:

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

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.

Requirements:

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

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.

Requirements:

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

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.

Current Opportunities

A group of ZooTeens who connect people to animals in a variety of supplemental guest service and educational activities. Teens will also engage in team building and leadership development programs.

Requirements:

  • Must be current junior high or high school student
  • Must be able to commit to at least one 4-hour weekend shift for four months

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, assisting with children’s programs and special events. Docents undergo an in-depth training offered twice a year on topics such as interpretation, natural history, ecology, botany, conservation, and the history of the Zoo.

Requirements:

  • Must be current junior high or high school student.
  • Must have strong public speaking and customer service skills.
  • Must be available to volunteer for at least one 2-hours shift/week for six months after graduation.
  • Must submit negative tuberculosis (TB) test annually.
  • Must clear Department of Justice (DOJ) background check.

CITs 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.

Requirements:

  • 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 (one day in May and one day in June).
  • 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 $80 tuition fee for the CIT program, payable upon acceptance.
Deadline to apply is May 21, 2017.

2017 CIT Application
ZooTeen Reference Letter Submission Form

 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 and provide a letter of reference.

Apply Now!

Special Event Volunteer Opportunities

(one-time)

Looking for a way to give a few hours of your time to the Zoo? Volunteering as a short-term volunteer could be what you are looking for! 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.

 Opportunities:

  • Princess Day (March)
  • Zoo-to-Do (April)
  • Boo at the Zoo (October)
  • Snow Leopard Festival (early December)

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

 Qualifications:

  • 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 may be able to set up a volunteer day just for you!

Opportunities

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.

How to Volunteer

Email the volunteer office with the following:

  • Number of participants, including adult-to-minor ratio
  • Dates interested in volunteering
  • Organization’s name (if applicable)
  • Contact information
Group Volunteer Application

 Qualifications

  • Groups must have a minimum of 10 individuals for a 4-hour shift.
  • Volunteers must be at least 13 years old.
  • Groups must meet all policy requirements:
    • 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:
      • He/she provides coordination and supervision for the group while volunteering.
      • He/she ensures all members adhere to Zoo rules and procedures.
    • It is the responsibility of the group coordinator to obtain 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.
  • Brown Bag Lunches
  • 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 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 (as described at right).

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 gift certificate
  • 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.