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Zoo volunteers come from all walks of life and a wide range of ages (10-95). We’re looking for volunteers who are friendly and customer-focused, have a positive attitude and are team oriented, are comfortable traveling around zoo grounds in all weather conditions, and are able to commit to a minimum of 25 volunteer hours spring through fall.


Volunteers Help:

    • Guests get the most out of their visit
    • Provide educational opportunities about animals and the importance of protecting animals in their native habitats
    • Make on-grounds and event fundraising successful


    How to Get Started:

    1. Complete the Volunteer Inquiry Form
    2. You’ll receive a detailed email about current volunteer opportunities and upcoming orientation dates. Sessions begin in January to prepare volunteers for the start of our busy season starting in Spring.
    3. Register for and attend an orientation (2 hours)
    4. At orientation, register for training in your volunteer role(s) of choice
    5. Shadow an experienced volunteer
    6. Start volunteering!


    What Volunteers Do at the Zoo:

    While volunteers support the mission of the Zoo and Friends of Henry Vilas Zoo in many different ways, there are three main ways for volunteers to get started in supporting the Zoo through their gifts of time and talent:

    Guest Services Volunteers focus on making sure Zoo guests get the most out of their visit. We're looking for volunteers who love the zoo, enjoy talking with people, and like to be outside. Volunteers offer friendly greetings, answer questions, provide directions, respond to guest concerns, and invite Zoo visitors to support the Zoo through on-grounds purchases, donation or membership. Guest Services volunteers may be stationed at an information booth, run the train & carousel, be our Henry the Lion zoo mascot, or provide change at the goat yard. Most roles require a minimum age of 10 with an adult or 16 to volunteer on your own. Train and carousel volunteers must be 18.

    Conservation Education Volunteers present animal-related information to guests of all ages through bleacher programs, meet & greets, animal biofact carts, hands-on activities, and more. Discovery Docents (animal biofact carts and interactive kit presenters) can be 13 years old. The Zoo offers limited opportunities to work directly with the Educational Animals (primarily reptiles, invertebrates and small mammals). These Animal Ambassadors must be willing/able to make a weekly commitment for at least a year, be at least 18 years old, and complete extended training. Our professional staff of zookeepers is responsible for all animal care including animal enrichment and cleaning of enclosures.

    Special Event Volunteers are are individuals or groups who get connected with the zoo by helping out at one of our events. Zoo Run Run in September & Halloween at the Zoo in October are our biggest events, but there are other one-time opportunities available throughout the year. If you or your group is interested in helping out with an event in the future please complete the form below and we will follow up with additional information.

    PACK: the Friends of Henry Vilas Zoo’s Leadership Board for Young Professionals assists with some of the Zoo’s events, fundraising, community outreach, and other special projects with a focus on engaging young adults with the zoo.  PACK primarily leads the zoo's events geared towards young professionals, such as Will Zoo Be Mine? and Be A Kid Again at the Zoo. These events raise funds for the zoo, help increase the Henry Vilas Zoo’s reach into the community, and remind the public that the zoo is a fun place not just for families, but for adults too.

    Community Service Hours from classes, clubs and court-ordered community service hours at our discretion. Minimum number of hours that will be accepted is 25. To inquire, please contact the volunteer coordinator at (608) 258-9490 or complete the Volunteer Inquiry Form and make a note that you have service hours to complete.