In the Volunteer section:
- Must be at least 18 years of age and not currently a high school student.
- Must be able to offer a minimum of 60 volunteer hours each year.
- Submit an online application and pay the $10 application fee online with a credit or debit card.
- After your application submission, you will receive a response email. Please follow the directions provided within the email to set up an interview with Volunteer Services.
- If accepted to the Volunteer Program after the interview, volunteers will need to submit a completed packet of required forms (General Release Form, Understanding by Adult Volunteer, Adult Volunteer Arrest and Conviction Notification Agreement, and Background Check) and the $35 Volunteer Orientation Fee (check or exact change only).
- After the volunteer paperwork has been processed (usually within 1-2 weeks), volunteers may sign up to attend a Volunteer Orientation session.
- After completing Orientation, volunteers can dive into the volunteer opportunities available at the Birmingham Zoo!
Click here for an online application.
Adult Volunteer Opportunities
After completing Orientation, volunteers may begin volunteering immediately in the following ways:
Greeting Visitors: Volunteer greeters play an important role in facilitating a positive visitor experience by offering a smiling face, providing directions, answering questions and offering suggestions about what to see!
Animal Observations: One frequent request from the Animal Departments is for volunteer observers. A keeper will provide information on what to look for and how to record observations, and volunteers fill shifts at specified exhibits.
Nightlife Programs: These programs, most often reserved by school, church or scout groups, provide an animal program, evening tour of the Zoo, engaging activity and a snack. Volunteers partner with Zoo staff to help with all aspects of the evening.
Special Events: A variety of special events are scheduled at the Zoo, from large-scale events like Boo at the Zoo and ZooLight Safari, to smaller private events throughout the year. Volunteers help with everything from greeting guests to leading games to passing out snacks.
The following training classes are optional and are offered multiple times throughout the year. Attending these classes will allow volunteers to get involved in even more ways:
Trails of Africa – Pachyderms: Trails of Africa is the Zoo’s newest exhibit, and continues to grow! This area includes the first ever African bull elephant herd in an exhibit, as well as rhinos and a hippo. There are a number of opportunities to educate the public about this area’s animals and related conservation issues.
Trails of Africa – Hoofstock: The Hoofstock area of Trails of Africa includes giraffes, zebras, red river hogs, African bird aviaries and more! In addition to sharing information with the Zoo’s visitors, volunteers will be trained to assist with giraffe feedings at the Kiwanis Giraffe Encounter.
Children’s Zoo: This is one of the most interactive areas of the Zoo, with multiple opportunities to get “up close” with the Zoo’s animals! The Children’s Zoo includes a number of domesticated animals, as well as the Alabama Wilds trail, where visitors can view a number of animals native to Alabama. Volunteers can also assist in the Contact Yard, guiding visitors in up-close interactions with a number of the Zoo’s domesticated animals!
Predators: This department features lions, African wild dogs, sea lions and much more! Volunteers in this department will help educate visitors about these intriguing carnivores.
Birds: The Zoo has a wide variety of interesting bird species. Volunteers will help to educate visitors about the brightly colored flamingos, the impressive cassowary and many more of the Zoo’s feathered inhabitants. Volunteers will also help keepers in the Lorikeet Aviary, where visitors can interact with and feed these fun, colorful birds.
Primates: The department includes orangutans, lemurs, a gorilla and many other interesting animals. Volunteers help to educate visitors about the Zoo’s amazing, intelligent primates and the conservation issues many of the species face.
Reptiles: From the Zoo’s wide array of intriguing snakes to the awe-inspiring Komodo Dragon, this department is full of interesting and unique inhabitants. Zoo volunteers will help educate the public on these often misunderstood animals.
Active volunteers may also qualify for even more exciting and engaging opportunities. Qualifying guidelines for the following opportunities are included on the following pages of this packet:
Animal Handling: After completing orientation and at least three months and at least 48 hours of service, volunteers in any of the areas above may qualify to attend Animal Handling Training. This series of courses will teach volunteers the skills needed to do educational animal presentations to the public, at camps and classes, and more!
Animal Husbandry: Volunteers willing to complete a three hour weekly shift for three months after attending an orientation may qualify to fill an available Animal Husbandry position (helping prepare food and/or care for some of the Zoo’s animals). Departments that currently offer these opportunities include the Children’s Zoo, Animal Nutrition Center and Africa Department.
Docent: After completing all seven area trainings, as well as the Leadership course, a volunteer may become a docent. Docents will be able to complete certain more advanced tasks and may get first priority on a number of available volunteer positions.