Volunteer

Thank you for your interest in volunteering!

There are several ways to engage with the Detroit Zoological Society as a volunteer.

  1. Core Volunteer – Core Volunteers are central to the Detroit Zoological Society’s mission of Celebrating and Saving Wildlife. Become a Core Volunteer and select from 10 different assignments. Receive benefits such as free admission, training and discounts on tickets. See Core Volunteer Opportunities below. Core Volunteers complete 3 easy steps – application with background check, attend orientation and complete assignment training.
    Apply Here
  2. Community Volunteer – become a Community Volunteer and sign up for a one-time only event like Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo or Zoo Brew. Give back to your community with just a small time commitment. Contact us at volunteer@dzs.org to learn about upcoming events.
  3. Group Volunteer – sign up as group for a one-time only project like landscaping or a special event. See Group Volunteer Opportunities below.
  4. Volunteen – if you are a teen age 14-17, you can apply to be a Zoo Corps volunteer. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you can apply to be a Counselor-in-Training. See Teen Volunteer Opportunities below.

Please note: Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to be a Community, Core or Group volunteer. Volunteers do not come in direct contact with animals. The Detroit Zoological Society does not participate in court-ordered community service.

 


  • Detroit Zoo – Core Volunteer Opportunities

    Core Volunteers are critical to meeting our mission. There are a number of Core Volunteer opportunities at the Detroit Zoo.


    Docent

    Our most intensive training prepares these dedicated volunteers to be educators and interpreters at animal habitats throughout the Zoo. In addition, they provide tours and assist with a variety of educational programs both inside the Zoo and in the local community all year long. 

    • Time Commitment: 75 hours per year for a minimum of 2 years
    • Training: 10-week training course plus an online component and shadowing requirements.
    • Scheduling: Flexible, two hour shifts
    • Availability: Year-round, seven days per week
    • Uniform: $10-$16.
    • Must be a Core Volunteer for at least one year.


    Mob Squad

    Kangaroos and wallabies call the Australian Outback Adventure home. In this popular Detroit Zoo attraction, guests are able to walk through the habitat and get a closer view of the animals. Volunteers called the “Mob Squad” interact with visitors along the winding pathway inside the habitat. Volunteers are critical to this experience and the habitat cannot be opened without a team of volunteers.

    • Time Commitment: 50 hours between April and October or 75 hours for calendar year
    • Training: One 2-hour training course plus online component.
    • Uniform: $16-$25
    • Scheduling: Flexible, 2-3 hour shifts
    • Availability: Year-round or seasonal, seven days per week


    Gallery Guide

    These volunteers are based in the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery and spend their time talking about butterflies. A special projection system called Science On a Sphere and art exhibits are housed in this building and volunteers also interact with guests in these areas.

    • Time Commitment: 50 hours per calendar year
    • Training: one 2-3 hour training plus an online component
    • Uniform: $10-$16
    • Scheduling: Flexible, 2-3 hour shifts
    • Availability: Year-round, seven days per week


    Special Events

    Throughout the year, the Zoo offers fun and interesting themed events to encourage guests to visit. These events could not happen without the helping hands and smiling faces of Zoo volunteers. From wine pourers to education and craft assistants, each event has its wish list of specialized assistance. This is a terrific way to be involved with the Zoo without a big commitment of time. 

    • Time Commitment: 20 hours per calendar year
    • Training: One 2-hour course plus occasional briefings
    • Uniform: $10-$16
    • Scheduling: Flexible, events are day and evening, weekdays and weekends
    • Availability: Year-round, seven days per week


    Zoo Ambassador

    This is the ultimate “people person” position. Spend half of a three-hour shift greeting guests as they enter the Zoo, helping them get oriented to the map, the facilities and any special events. The rest of the time is spent walking the Zoo looking for ways to help guests.  

    • Time Commitment: 50 hours between April and October
    • Training: One 4-hour course plus online component
    • Uniform: $10-$16
    • Scheduling: Flexible, three-hour shifts
    • Availability: Seasonal, April-October, seven days per week


    Arctic Ring of Life Guest Assistant

    This is one of the most critical positions in the Zoo. While helping with crowd control in the busy Frederick and Barbara Erb Polar Passage, these volunteers enjoy quality time with the polar bears and seal residents in this award-winning habitat.

    • Time Commitment: 50 hours between April and October
    • Training: One 2-3 hour course plus online component
    • Uniform: $10-$16
    • Scheduling: Flexible, 2-3 hour shifts
    • Availability: Seasonal, April-October, seven days per week


    Greeter

    Greeters assist primarily in two locations: Ford Education Center Exhibit Hall and Science On a Sphere. Greeters provide a friendly invitation to guests to come in and view these exhibits/shows. Seasonal greeters are also needed at the National Amphibian Conservation Center.

    • Time Commitment: 20 hours per calendar year
    • Training: One 1-hour training for Science On a Sphere and on-the-job training for Ford Education Center and seasonal greeters
    • Uniform: $10-$16
    • Scheduling: Flexible, three-hour shifts
    • Availability: varies, seven days per week


    Gardening Assistant

    Gardening Assistants help our Landscape Department with a variety of garden care projects. 

    • Time Commitment: 20 hours per year
    • Training: No training is provided; volunteers must be familiar with common outdoor plants
    • Scheduling: Flexible shifts
    • Availability: April-October, seven days per week


  • Belle Isle Nature Center – Core Volunteer Opportunities

    The Belle Isle Nature Center volunteers are a group of dedicated individuals who have a particular connection to Belle Isle as well as to the mission of “bringing the wilds of Michigan to the heart of Detroit” at the Belle Isle Nature Center. Volunteers assist the staff with projects, greet visitors or field trip groups and help with public feedings at the Deer Encounter. They also answer questions about the frogs, salamanders, turtles, bees and fish that live in the facility. 

    • Time Commitment: 20 hours per calendar year
    • Training: One 2-hour training held at the Belle Isle Nature Center
    • Uniform: $10-$16
    • Scheduling: Flexible, three-hour shifts
    • Availability: Year-round, 5-7 days per week

  • Teen Volunteer Opportunities

    Volunteen Zoo Corps Program

    Detroit Zoo

    The Detroit Zoological Society is looking for energetic youth ages 14-17 to be part of our Zoo Corps. This is an opportunity to earn community service hours while working with a team from the Education Department at the Detroit Zoo. Benefits include leadership experience, customer service training, learning and practicing communication skills, and a professional work setting. Opportunities to volunteer stretch throughout the year, including weekdays, evenings and weekends.

    Apply Now


    Summer Safari Camp Counselor-in-Training Program

    Detroit Zoo

    Our Counselor-in-Training program matches teen volunteers ages 16 and 17 with paid camp staff to assist with Detroit Zoo Safari Camp. Responsibilities include assisting with groups of 10-12 youth (grades K-8) on hikes through the Zoo, administering craft projects and interacting with staff and guests. Camp is held mainly outdoors Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Applicants must be available for mandatory training on Thursday, June 25 and commit to a minimum of two full weeks during the time period June 29 to August 21. The two weeks do not need to be consecutive.

    • Applications will open soon
  • Group Volunteer Opportunities

    Are you a part of an organization, company or group of friends that is interested in donating your time to the Detroit Zoological Society? Contact volunteer@dzs.org to find out about our group volunteer opportunities!

    Upcoming group opportunities:

    • Beautify the Zoo – From April to October, the Detroit Zoo accepts a limited number of adult volunteer groups up to 15 people to help on a single day with landscaping projects around the Zoo. Project length average 4-6 hours. These projects usually consist of raking, weeding, planting, spreading mulch and removing invasive species. All tools and gloves are provided. Each volunteer is required to sign a waiver of liability form.
      • Upcoming dates:
        • April 9, 16, 23 and 30.
        • July 9, 16, 23, 30
        • August 6, 13, 20, 27
    • May 8 – Zoo Brew (must be 21 or older)
    • August 28 – Wild Beast, Wild Wine (must be 21 or older)
    • September 13 – Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo
    • September 26 – Zoo Brew (must be 21 or older)
    • October – Zoo Boo (select days)

    If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please contact volunteer@dzs.org

    — Thank you.

  • Volunteer Orientation Dates
    • January 25, 2020
    • March 7, 2020
    • May 7, 2020
    • July 8, 2020
    • September 19, 2020
    • November 8, 2020
  • Volunteering Video

  • Diversity Statement

    Just as we value and celebrate biodiversity, the Detroit Zoological Society celebrates the diversity of our human community. We are committed to ensuring that our programs and facilities are fully accessible to our diverse communities and audiences and that our staff and volunteers reflect the multicultural fabric that is the strength of southeast Michigan.