Central Park Zoo Volunteer Program

William Holmstrom ©WCS

Become a volunteer Zoo Guide at one of the nation's greatest institutions. You'll assist the Education Department at the Central Park Zoo in delivering wildlife and environmental conservation information to zoo visitors, leading tours, supporting zoo school programs, participating in a variety of events, and offering administrative support.

Zoo Guide Responsibilities 
Volunteers must be flexible and prepared to serve in any of the capacities listed below.

  • Engaging public visitors in interactive discussions about selected animals, their exhibits, and environmental conservation. A volunteer should initiate conversations with visitors to make them feel welcome, as well as, share information.
  • Conducting guided tours for the casual visitor and selected organized groups, including school groups and adult groups. These tours can encompass multiple exhibits, focus on a specific region and its wildlife, or concentrate on a specific topic, such as animal adaptations or behavior.
  • Delivering amplified sea lion narration at feeding times. Narrators use a microphone to speak to large audiences.
  • Reading to children during summer story time activities.
  • Participating in a variety of promotional, corporate, private, and special events.
  • Helping our youngest visitors explore the wonders of the Tisch Children's Zoo.
  • Helping the Education Department with administrative duties such as record keeping, light administrative duties and preparation of arts and crafts for special events and educational programs.
  • Attending additional trainings following the initial 9-session Zoo Guide training program. Opportunities for continuing education will be available for guides to attend to further their knowledge of wildlife and environmental conservation. Volunteers are required to attend a minimum of three continuing education programs per year.
  • Presenting live animal encounters to zoo visitors. Note that you must complete one year of volunteer service to be eligible to apply for the animal handling program. You must also successfully complete the animal handling training course in order to work with the education animals.

Time Commitment Requirements
After acceptance into the Zoo Guide program, each volunteer is required to complete a 9-session training course, occurring from January through March, followed by a 3-month probationary period. Volunteers are expected to make a minimum 1-year commitment of service to the Central Park Zoo upon successful completion of the training course. Weekday volunteers must commit to working one full day per week; a minimum of 175 hours of annual service. Weekend volunteers must commit to working one full day every other weekend; a minimum of 108 hours of annual service. Arrangements may be made with the Coordinator of Volunteers to work additional days, if desired.

The Zoo is open every day of the year, including all holidays. Volunteers are needed 365 days a year.

Training Program
All volunteers are required to complete a multi-week training course taught by zoo staff. The 9-session training course will take place from January through March. The cost of training is $100. This includes fees for training refreshments, materials, uniform shirt and explorer vest. Final acceptance of a volunteer into the program is contingent on successful completion of the training course and a 3-month probationary period.

We are no longer accepting applications for new volunteers at this time. We will resume accepting applications in Fall 2012. Please check our website for an application and information at that time.

rogram Organization 
The Coordinator of Volunteers and the Manager of Education are responsible for selecting, supervising, and evaluating volunteers. For each day of the week, a Day Captain will be elected by the day's members or appointed by the Coordinator of Volunteers. The Day Captain is directly responsible for assigning jobs to that day's volunteers, making up a schedule, supervising volunteers, and maintaining records for the day. If a problem arises that the Day Captain cannot handle, he/she will contact the Coordinator of Volunteers.