New York State Zoo at Thompson Park

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Volunteering at the New York State Zoo

We need your help! As a volunteer, you will contribute to the success of the New York State Zoo and its mission to promote conservation and education.

Upcoming volunteer orientations: Saturdays at 9:00 am

  • September 6
  • October 4
  • November 1

Volunteer opportunities:

Adult Volunteers: Age 18 and older

The zoo's adult volunteers commit to a regular schedule and provide at least 60 hours of service per year. Volunteers are needed year-round: the zoo is open in the winter and the animals still need care! There is no animal handling or direct animal contact for zoo volunteers.

Adult volunteers must complete a volunteer orientation training, held on the first Saturday of every month at 9:00am. They will be interviewed and placed according to their skills, interests, and the needs of the zoo. Additional training will be provided on the job. Adult volunteers help with the following tasks:

  • greeting visitors
  • answering questions about the zoo and the animals
  • staffing hands-on educational stations
  • attending the butterfly house
  • weeding and planting garden beds
  • preparing animal diets
  • assisting zoo keepers with animal exhibits
  • mowing, trimming, raking
  • snow and ice removal
  • assisting with clerical tasks
  • cleaning
  • monitoring and maintaining gift shop
  • special projects as needed

Teen Volunteers: Age 13-17

Zoo Teens must complete a training session, held at the beginning of summer and as needed. They will gain skills in public speaking and learn about conservation, ecology, and careers in the zoo field. They must commit to a minimum 20 hours of service in the three months following their initial training. Zoo Teens help with the following tasks:

  • greeting visitors
  • answering questions about the zoo and the animals
  • staffing hands-on educational stations
  • attending the butterfly house
  • assisting with education programs, such as day camp
  • assisting with outreach programs
  • assisting with special events
  • other projects as needed

Group Volunteers/Service Projects

If you are looking to gain service hours with a group, we can use your help! Groups of 4-12 individuals work best for us. Group volunteers must provide a minimum 2 weeks notice before planning a trip. Youth volunteers must have adults to guide and supervise them. All groups must be self-sufficient as zoo staff will usually not be available to assist or supervise during your volunteer hours. Please dress appropriately and be prepared to be outside. Projects for group volunteers include:

  • staffing special events
  • raking leaves
  • grounds cleanup, particularly after events
  • sweeping pathways and paved areas
  • cleaning of indoor areas
  • snow/ice removal
  • weeding garden beds
  • other grounds/maintenance tasks as needed

Event Volunteers

If you are not with a group and not looking for a regular commitment, you can still volunteer! We need individuals to help with all of our special events. You may be asked to work a table, host a game, manage crowds, greet visitors, or many other tasks, depending on the event. A typical year at the zoo includes the following events:

  • Earth Day Celebration (late April)
  • Symphony/Fireworks (4th of July week)
  • Teddy Bear Picnic (mid-July)
  • Brew at the Zoo – adults age 21+ only (August 8 & 9, 2014)
  • Boo at the Zoo (October 24 & 25, 2014)


If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at the New York State Zoo, please complete the volunteer application. Please note that very few volunteers are permitted contact with the animals and all volunteers must undergo training.

For more information, please call the zoo director at (315) 755-0892.

Download Volunteer Application


Visit the New York State Zoo Today (315) 782-6180

What Visitors Say

The North Country's best Summer destination.

- Alan, Watertown, NY