All of your frequently asked questions answered.
Thank you for choosing to support The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore! In order to make your volunteering experience the most value to you, please read the following frequently asked questions:
Volunteers do almost everything zoo employees do, from educating school groups to preparing animal diets to maintaining flower beds to answering phones. However, certain positions are more in demand than others. Openings in animal care are fairly rare, but we have a great need for new educational and visitor services volunteers. For information regarding the positions we are currently accepting applications for, please click here.
The animals in our collection are wild, and keeping animals and people separate is important for everyone’s safety. Education volunteers (Public Programs and Outreach) may qualify to become Animal Handlers, using our collection of education program animals to teach about wildlife and conservation. Most positions allow you some ability to observe our animals and enjoy the campus, and every position contributes to the success of the Zoo. Also, our recognition program includes many opportunities to interact with Zoo staff and learn about the daily lives of our animal collection.
We do not use volunteers for animal care (except for college interns.) We recommend that you apply only for positions you can see yourself enjoying indefinitely, as there is no guarantee of consideration for other positions.
Children 14 and older are welcome to volunteer with a participating adult at Zoo special events such as ZooBOOO or on special projects. Volunteers in regular positions are not allowed to bring children along, so that they can concentrate safely on their assignment.
No, we do not offer service hours for court-ordered or punitive community service.
Bus and Metro lines are available at the Mondawmin station, approximately a ten-minute walk from the Zoo. Most volunteers arrive by car, and free parking is available in the staff lots. Handicapped parking is also available. Click here for directions.
Once you are offered and accept a position, there is a one-time, non-refundable registration fee of $25, which covers the cost of the volunteer shirt, training materials, and a background check. All regular volunteers will be checked against the national Sex Offender Registry (authorization forms will be signed at Orientation.) Volunteers will also need to wear khaki “bottoms” (pants, shorts, or skirts), and closed-toe shoes.
Volunteer retention is extremely important to us, and we work hard to keep our trained volunteers. We expect that volunteers in most positions will fulfill a regular commitment for at least a year. Student programs have seasonal schedules and should be discussed with a volunteer manager. People with only short-term or occasional availability would be great at events, or should consider our Conservation Club.
Most of our volunteer positions are for people 18 and older. We have a world-class service learning program for 14-17 year olds, Zoo Crew. In addition, youth 14-17 are invited to help at special events (14-15 with a supporting adult who will actively participate in volunteering).
Not necessarily. Many of our employees did start out as volunteers, and this is a great way to learn about careers with wildlife. However, joining the volunteer program will not guarantee you employment at the Maryland Zoo. If you are interested in seeking employment, please refer to the Jobs Listings portion of the website to view current job openings.
The volunteer department does not arrange job shadows. If you are a college student planning on a related career, we do offer a variety of internships. These positions, especially in the Animal Department, are very competitive but will give you great experience in your field of interest.
All volunteers must attend a half-day orientation session, to learn important safety policies and complete some routine set-up processes. Some positions require 1-3 days of specialized training, usually scheduled during early spring. Other positions, like Wild Weed Warrior, require little pre-training, and you can learn all you need to know on the job. A member of the Zoo’s Volunteer Department staff can tell you about the specific requirements for your position of interest.
Further questions? Contact the Volunteer Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-552-5266.