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.


Adult Volunteers


Teen Volunteers

Renew the Zoo

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.

Meet at the bronze tiger statue in the Entry Village circle at 9:50am. Orientations are from 10am – 12noon. Please be on time; late arrivals will not be allowed to attend the orientationYou do not need to pay for zoo admission or parking to attend the orientation.

*These opportunities are only for individual volunteers. If you are looking for group volunteer opportunities, please see Renew the Zoo.

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

2020 Adult Volunteer Orientation Dates*

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adult volunteer orientations will be suspended until further notice.


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.

2020 Docent Orientation: 

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, docent orientations will be suspended until further notice.

Teen Volunteers

The Zoo supports future conservation action through engaging youth development volunteer opportunities. We have popular summer and year-round programs that are designed to be fun and educational while building job readiness skills and inspiring youth to appreciate, care for, and conserve nature.

To be a teen volunteer at the Zoo, you must:

    1. Meet the age requirements for the program.
    2. Attend the scheduled orientation (no RSVPs required).
    3. Complete the online application (provided following the orientation).
    4. Attend the scheduled trainings.

Zoo Crew
Volunteer on a team to restore wildlife habitat at Lake Merced and Mountain Lake in San Francisco.

  • Ages 11-14
  • Program runs: September through June
  • Hours: Six Saturdays (minimum) from 9:30 am to 12 pm

Nature Trail
Nature Trailers work in close proximity to the Zoo’s ambassador animal collection, and teach guests about adaptations and conservation.  Nature Trailers will learn to handle a few small mammals and reptiles.

  • Ages 12-14 (must be 12 by June 1st)
  • Program runs: early June to Labor Day
  • Hours: 2 days per week, 10 am to 4:45 pm

Talk on the Wild Side
Learn to handle amazing animals like livestock and arthropods while giving informational talks to Zoo visitors. Utilize biofact carts to educate the public.

  • Ages 14 – 17
  • Program runs: early June to Labor Day
  • Hours: 2 days per week, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm

Leadership Fellows (Formerly Zoo Teaching Assistant)
Help Zoo Campers explore the world of animals through zoo tours, crafts, games, and other camp activities. Gain practical work experience with children as well as leadership skills in topics such as resume building & interviewing, public speaking, goal setting, and effective communication. Email [email protected] for more information or fill out an online application.

  • Ages 14+
  • Program runs: June 27 – July 22 or July 25 – August 19
  • Hours: Full-day shift Monday – Thursday, Half-day shift Friday

2022 Orientation Dates*

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are not recruiting new Nature Trail, TOWS volunteers in 2022.

Nature Trail TBD
Talk on the Wild Side! TBD
TOWS & ZTA combined orientation
Leadership Fellows (Formerly Zoo Teacher Assistants)

June 18, 2022

Zoo Crew TBD

*All orientations will be held in the Great Hall of the Lurie Education Center. To get to the Great Hall, enter through the main red gates to the Zoo and make a left just past the gift shop.
Please note: parking passes are not provided.

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 old entrance gate on Sloat Blvd. and 45th Avenue.

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].

Sign up now:

June 13, 2020 Canceled due to COVID-19 virus.

Pre-registration is required
Sign up individually, although families may register as a group. When you register, you will receive an email confirmation. Please do not attend unless your registration has been confirmed. Print and bring your e-mailed registration to the event.

Upcoming 2020 Dates:

September 12, 2020 Canceled due to COVID-19 virus.
November 14, 2020 Canceled due to COVID-19 virus.
Check back for updates as things change.

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