Volunteers are the heart of our mission to save animals

Zoo Ambassador


All Volunteers are Zoo Ambassadors

We view our volunteers as ambassadors of the zoo as they play a vital role in interacting with guests and inspiring everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives. All volunteers are trained and encouraged to participate in the extensive opportunities that being a Zoo Ambassador offers, keep reading to find out more about our program!

Training - Required of All New Volunteers


New volunteers are required to complete the zoo ambassador training program which consists of attending an info session, submitting an application, attending a group interview, a two-day training session followed by a minimum of two 3-hour mentored shifts with an experienced zoo ambassador. All interested applicants must have sufficient availability to attend two days of training and at least two self-scheduled mentored shifts in the weeks following their initial training session.

Woodland Park Zoo is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education, and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation in participating in zoo ambassador training, contact Volunteer Program staff at volunteer@zoo.org


Zoo Ambassador Opportunities

Ambassador Shift
Actively greet and help guests enjoy their visit by giving directions, answering questions, pointing out animals and sharing your passion for the zoo! This is the primary role of our volunteers!

Zoo Ambassadors do not work directly with the animals in Woodland Park Zoo’s care.

Animal Visibility
Help the zoo’s Animal Care staff to gather data for a variety of projects focused on welfare, empathy, and more.

Community Science - Limited openings available
Help the zoo’s Wildlife Conservation Division to gather data, help monitor local wildlife species and engage with local community members in the greater Seattle metropolitan area.

Data Squad
Help the Impact and Evaluation Team collect important data and information on a variety of questions that help us know more about the zoo.

Exploration Stations
Deliver informal programs at the zoo focusing on a variety of topics such as animal enrichment, palm oil consumption, and more.

Special Events
Contribute to successful zoo events by providing directions and event information, engaging with guests, assisting children with arts and crafts, and more. All Zoo Ambassadors are required to do at least two shifts for special events.

WildKeepers - Limited openings available
Help animal keepers across the zoo with a variety of physically demanding, yet personally rewarding projects. This opportunity typically involves removing invasive plants, cleaning exhibit areas, and hauling and moving gravel – volunteer must meet a minimum requirement of being able to maneuver across uneven terrain and lift/carry 20lbs.

Engage with young guests by facilitating play and helping with early childhood learning in Zoomazium.

Zoo ambassadors who meet the minimum service requirements will have more opportunities available to them as zoo needs arise.



Docents are the Informal Educators at the Zoo


They bring our mission to inspire everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives to life!

Docents play an integral role in communicating the conservation and education goals of the zoo and facilitate learning experiences through the use of touchable props and visuals! Docent volunteers go through an additional application, training, and mentorship process. Docent training is usually held every 1-3 years in the fall/winter and upcoming trainings will be announced to active volunteers.

Docents are a branch of our Zoo Ambassador Volunteer program who are expected to meet the minimum service requirements of 70 hours and work two special events annually but are also required to devote 30 hours per year of their total volunteer service to docent-specific activities.

Docent Opportunities

The following activities are open to current zoo ambassadors who successfully complete the docent application process and training program:  

Discovery Station
Facilitate visitor exploration of physical objects set on a stationary cart. The objects on the cart are thematically developed and encourage connecting everyone to nature, increasing ecological literacy and providing clear pathways to conservation. Visitors are encouraged to use their experience at the cart as they explore further zoo exhibits, make observations, and investigate their questions about animals at the zoo.

Conservation Connection Cart
Utilize props at stationary carts, facilitate conversations intended to increase awareness of Woodland Park Zoo’s supported global field conservation partners. Encourage conversations around empathy, perspective taking and advise specific conservation actions for our visitors, or brainstorm with them!

Exhibit Interpretation
Move through the exhibits at the zoo, engaging visitors in interpretive conversations utilizing animal biofacts, props and the exhibit features. This opportunity to help our visitors develop a deeper understanding of wildlife and habitat by truly involving them in the dialogue.

Horticulture Volunteer


Horticulture Volunteers assist in the care and maintenance of various plants and gardens on zoo grounds (including the Woodland Park Rose Garden).

Horticulture volunteer opportunities are offered on a limited basis to current zoo ambassadors who are 18 years or older and can commit to a regular weekly shift for a minimum of six months. Applications for open positions typically are on weekday mornings but are flexible based on the needs of the Horticulture department. These shifts are physical in nature - volunteers must be able to maneuver on uneven ground, and bend, lift, or kneel.

Leadership Opportunities


Leadership Opportunities within the Volunteer Program

Once onboarded there are several Leadership opportunities available to those who are interested.

The Volunteer Leadership Team, or VLT, focuses on our volunteer community and making it a special and welcoming place for all our volunteers. They create social gatherings and educational opportunities, help design World Animal Days and more! You will find a creative and engaged team of volunteers who help make the program as special as possible.

The Docent Training Committee collaborates with staff and the larger docent community to create, improve, and lead docent training. You will find a wide range of docents with unique experiences, perspectives, and an overall passion for learning and growth within the docent community.

The Docent Council works with the Volunteer Office to foster an environment and culture that provides educational opportunities for docents and nourishes a sense of community. This council meets on a quarterly basis and has a 2-year term limit. You will find a group of volunteers who are advocates for docent activities and enjoy collaboration and idea generation.

Our Mission

Woodland Park Zoo saves wildlife and inspires everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives.

Land Acknowledgment

Woodland Park Zoo recognizes that these are the lands of the Tribal signatories of the Treaty of Point Elliott. We acknowledge their stewardship of this place continues to this day and that it is our responsibility to join them to restore the relationship with the living world around us.

5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103   |  206.548.2500  |   zooinfo@zoo.org

Association of Zoos & Aquariums
Seattle Parks & Recreation
Humane Certification