(865) 637-5331

Volunteer at the Zoo


Be a Part of the Experience!

KZG Volunteer Mission Statement

The mission of Knoxville Zoo's Volunteer Program is to enhance the guests' experience through education about animals and conservation, by serving as ambassadors of the zoo. Further, the volunteers support and assist zoo staff with care and welfare of animals, outreach, education, special events, research and daily operations.

Program Information

Knoxville Zoo's Volunteer Program can be an exciting experience for people of all ages. Adult Volunteers and Youth Volunteers alike, play a major role in guest relations, zoo education, special events, and many other exciting areas of the zoo!
The application process begins with a Volunteer Fair which is held each January. This provides an opportunity for interested individuals to learn more about the Volunteer Program.

We strongly encourage potential volunteers to attend the Volunteer Fair, however, it is not mandatory. Here you can pick up an application and learn how to effectively complete the form in order to increase your chances of being selected into this highly competitive program. A limited number of spaces are available for the Youth Volunteer Program.

Program and Training Dates

Volunteer Fair

The semi-annual Volunteer Fair is scheduled for Saturday, January 23, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.  Please come by and meet current Knoxville Zoo volunteers and get more information about the volunteer program. 

Adult Volunteer Workshop

The next Adult Volunteer Workshop will be held on March 12, 13 and 19, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Each day covers different topics, so attendance is required at all three workshop days. Class size is limited to ensure proper training, supervision and utilization of volunteers.  Applications, a Background Check Release Form and a $25 deposit for this workshop will be due no later than Tuesday, March 8.  Please note that workshop dates are subject to change.

All volunteers must go through mentored training upon completion of the workshop.  

Adult Volunteer Bridge Workshop

Bridge workshops are intended who want to begin volunteering sooner than the full workshop. Volunteers who complete the bridge workshop are limited to interpreting at specific animal exhibits. These individuals will also be required to attend the next full workshop and fulfill all volunteer requirements. The next Bridge workshop will be held on Saturday, May 28, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Applications are due by May 24.

Youth Volunteer Workshop

The Youth Volunteer Workshop will be held April 23 & 24, 2016. New Youth Volunteers must attend both days. A parent or guardian MUST attend the first 4 hours on the first day of the youth training.  

2010 Zoo Youth Vols 2016 Youth Volunteer Application Packets are due February 23, 2016 and must include:

  • Completed Youth Volunteer Application
  • Two signed letters of recommendation
  • An essay on "Why I Want to Be a Zoo Volunteer"
  • $25 application fee
This is a very competitive program with limited spaces. Youth with late and/or incomplete application packets WILL NOT be considered for the program.


What Do Volunteers Do?

Volunteer EnrichmentThere are many exciting things to do at Knoxville Zoo. A few examples of our volunteer opportunities include:

  • Educational Programs - assist staff with classes and programs both on and off zoo grounds. Enrich learning experiences for our zoo guests or help take the zoo to schools, churches and other groups.
  • Interpreters - share with guests the story of our animals, exhibits and the importance of their conservation using a variety of information and biofacts.
  • Special Events - help staff work an array of educational and fundraising events including ZooCamp, Boo! at the Zoo and more.
  • ZooAides - go behind the scenes and help the staff in the day-to-day operations of keeping the zoo running smoothly.
  • Much, Much More - if you have special skills or talents, let us know - there are many varied areas of the zoo that need YOUR help!
  • Please note: Due to strict animal husbandry guidelines and safety issues, there is no contact or inside-exhibit work with the majority or the animals at the zoo. Remember, this is for the animals' safety and well being as well as yours.

Fees and Requirements 

  1. If you are not already a zoo member, you must become and remain a member throughout your career as a Knoxville Zoo volunteer. Contact the Membership department at (865) 637-5331 ext.305 to purchase a membership, or purchase online by clicking here.
  2. Cost of training for adults is $75, which covers uniform, name tag, and all training materials. Cost of youth volunteer training is $100. This one-time fee includes two volunteer uniform shirts, name tag, manual, training materials, staff time, mailing costs, and use of the zoo's facilities.
  3. Applicants to the Youth Volunteer Program must be between 13-17 years of age. Training is held in the spring of each year. The remainder of the calendar year is a probationary period.
  4. Adults ages 18 and over will be considered for the Adult Volunteer Program. Training is held in the spring and the fall.
  5. For the Youth Volunteer Program, complete and return the Youth Volunteer Application 2014 YVol Application.pdf. Youth must complete application in their own handwriting and list the other documents that are to be provided (essay, letters of recommendations). For the Adult Volunteer Program, complete and return the Adult Volunteer Form 2014 AVol Application.pdf.
  6. Once accepted into the program, Adult Volunteers must complete a 24-hour workshop (12-hours for Youth Volunteers). There is a mentor process immediately after the workshop.
  7. Each volunteer must be prepared to commit at least one-year of service. At least 50 hours of volunteering must be completed during this time, including 25 hours in education functions. Volunteer time is calculated for the calendar year.
  8. To keep volunteers updated and current on all information, required monthly meetings are held the third Tuesday of every month at 7:00 p.m.