Volunteer Programs

If you have a sincere interest in animals and conservation, enjoy working with people, and are enthusiastic and dependable, our Volunteer Programs are for you.


Teen Volunteers

Renew the Zoo

Adult Volunteers


Nature Trail:

Nature Trail was founded in 1976. It is amongst the oldest zoo youth volunteer programs in the nation. It offers a unique hands-on opportunity for Bay Area adolescents who are interested in learning more about animals and the environment. Nature Trail will be open from June 28 to September 1, 2024.

Volunteering looks great on high school and college applications. Nature Trailers undergo a thorough three-day training session to learn animal facts, teaching methods, and safety protocols. Nature Trail volunteers develop skills in animal husbandry, teamwork, and public speaking. Nature Trail volunteers interact with over 50,000 Zoo visitors annually.

Many Nature Trail graduates go on to volunteer as Junior Zoologists. Some continue as paid Interns, Education Specialists, Animal Keepers, and Curators. Others go on to careers in science, education, and conservation. For everyone who participates in the program, it is an unforgettable experience.

Teen Volunteers:

If you love Kids, Nature, and Education, we have the program for you! Come join us this Summer in Zoo Camp, as a Leadership Fellow. Spend the first part of the day assisting our Zoo Camp program as you play with the campers, helping to assist with activities, making crafts, and exploring the Zoo. During the second part of the day, you will split off from Zoo Camp and meet with other departments around the Zoo. You’ll learn all about our mission to Connect, Care, and Conserve as you go behind the scenes to see firsthand how the Zoo operates. You’ll also discover how departments work together, and of course see some animals up close.

The Leadership Fellows are a key factor to Zoo Camp’s success and its overall experience. So come join the team!

Though no formal childcare experience is required, Leadership Fellows should be energetic and enjoy spending time with children, preschool to 8th grade. This program is designed for teens entering grades 10 – 12 in the Fall of 2024.


  1. Must be between the ages of 12 and 14
  2. Must commit to working one day a week (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday) through Labor Day weekend. Volunteers will be allowed two weeks off for vacations.
  3.      Must attend all three training sessions from 10 am-4 pm on Saturdays, 6/8, 6/15, and 6/22. There is a $100 fee to cover uniform and material costs, due on the first day of training.
  4.      Must demonstrate a commitment to San Francisco Zoo & Gardens’s core mission: Connectingpeople with wildlife, inspiring Caring for nature, and advancing Conservation action.

Please fill out this Google form to apply: https://forms.gle/omuejk2WBgZfWnWZ6

All applications must be received by May 31. Qualified candidates will be invited to participate in a Zoom interview. If you have any questions, email [email protected].

    Program Logistics:

    • Where: San Francisco Zoo & Gardens
    •  Who: Teens entering grades 10 – 12 in the Fall of 2024
    •  When: June 17th – August 9th  | Monday – Thursdays |  8:30am – 3:30pm | Fridays       8:30am – 1:30pm

    Choose from 4 different cohort groups to join.

    Applications will be open April 1st, 2024, through April 30th, 2024.

    Selected applicants will be required to attend an in-person group interview on May 19, 2024, as well as one of the three online information sessions (time TBD).


    No experience necessary! To be eligible for the program, applicants must:

    • Be entering grades 10 – 12 in the Fall of 2024.
    • Commit to all attendance requirements for the group they are selected for.
    • Demonstrate interest and enthusiasm for learning, teaching, and teamwork.

    The Leadership Fellows are a key factor to Zoo Camp’s success and its overall experience. So come join the team!

    How to Apply:

    If the Leadership Fellows Program seems like it would be a good fit for you, please click Here to apply.

    Additional Information:

    • Fellows will work with a variety of camp classes, aged Preschool through 8th grade. We encourage applicants to list availability for all cohorts that they would be able to join to increase their chances of acceptance into the program. Although we will do our best to accommodate your preference for a specific age group, we cannot guarantee placement with any particular class. We also feel it is beneficial for Fellows to experience a range of different age groups and teachers.
    • The final number of Fellows accepted is determined by the number of camp classes and enrollment. If you are not chosen, we recommend you try again next year and/or look into some of the other teen opportunities at the San Francisco Zoo & Gardens.

    Renew the Zoo

    Spend a Saturday beautifying the Zoo. The role of the Zoo’s Horticulture Department is more than just to create beautiful gardens for the animals and visitors, it is also to help spread the message of habitat conservation and vegetation management.

    Participation means:

    • Weeding and clean-up to eliminate the need for harmful pesticides
    • Meeting new people of diverse backgrounds and all ages who share your commitment to conserving the Earth’s plant and animal species
    • Sharing your expertise and developing new skills and interests
    • Becoming part of San Francisco Zoo’s history
    • Contributing to the ongoing development and improvement of the Zoo
    • Getting really, really dirty

    Who can volunteer?
    Adults and children (adult:child ratio must be at least 1 adult per 5 children).

    When can I volunteer?
    The second Saturday of March, June, September, and November, from 8:00 am to 11:00 am Please be prompt. We will be closing the gates at 8:15. No late entries allowed.

    Where do we meet?
    Meet by the Main Entrance to the Zoo off the Great Highway.

    What do I wear?
    Something warm and comfortable that you don’t mind getting dirty. The Zoo provides tools and work gloves, but if you have work gloves, bring them just in case. Please wear sturdy work shoes.

    Have a Question? E-mail [email protected].

    Sponsoring a Corporate Renew the Zoo Event

    Groups of all sizes can sponsor a private Renew the Zoo day for their companies. At a Corporate Renew the Zoo day, your group works as a team to complete Zoo projects that ultimately benefit our Bay Area community. In addition to having fun and building team camaraderie, your group receives admission to the Zoo, refreshments and free ride coupons. Zoo staff coordinate each event to make sure that your group enjoys its day at the Zoo.

    Have a Question? E-mail [email protected].

    Volunteer Dates
    Please be prompt. We will be closing the gates at 8:15. No late entries allowed.

    • Saturday, March 9th, SOLD OUT
    • Saturday, June 8th, 8 am – 11 am, SOLD OUT
    • Saturday, September 14th, 8 am – 11 am
    • Saturday, November 9th, 8 am – 11 am

    To sign up e-mail [email protected]

    Adult Volunteers

    Would you like to make a positive impact in our Zoo? Volunteering at the San Francisco Zoo can be a fun, educational and rewarding experience. We have volunteer opportunities in our Family Farm, Animal Resource Center, Events, and other Zoo departments. Learn more by attending any one of our upcoming orientations.

    Minimum Requirements for Adult Volunteers*:

    • You must be at least 18 years of age.
    • You must attend a volunteer orientation.
    • After being accepted into one of our volunteer areas, you must successfully pass a background check. There is a non-refundable administration fee for the background check. Additional fee for international background checks.
    • There is a uniform fee of $30.00.
    • A minimum commitment of 6 months.


    For additional information, please email: [email protected].


    Become a docent and inspire future conservationists. Docents support our mission by connecting guests to wildlife through informative talks, biofact presentations, and school tours. You can be a part of a vibrant community of volunteers who care about conserving wildlife. You’ll meet new friends and learn all about animals from Zoo staff.

    To be a docent, you must be at least 18 years of age. Attend the Docent Orientation to better understand the Docent Program and Docent responsibilities. To become a docent, you must participate in our training program, offered annually. This 10-week comprehensive course covers public speaking skills, conservation messages, Zoo history and operation, animal care and wellness, and taxonomy. Docents are required to volunteer 10 hours per month.

    Contact us to learn how to get involved before the next training class, to register for the course, or to learn more about our Docent Program.

    Have a Question? E-mail [email protected] or call (415) 753-7122.