Central Park Zoo
Volunteering

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Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Recruitment for 2015 training program is now closed. Recruitment for the 2016 training program will be open in August of 2015. Check back regularly for updates!

Are you a "people person" who loves to educate others on topics related to wildlife and conservation? Become a volunteer docent at one of the nation's greatest institutions! You'll assist our Education Department in engaging in inquiry-based discussions with zoo visitors, interacting with guests at the information cart, offering administrative support, leading tours, reading to children during our story time activities, and participating in a variety of events and educational programs.

What are some of the responsibilities?

Volunteers must be flexible and prepared to serve in any of the capacities listed below.

  • Engage public visitors in interactive discussions about selected animals, their exhibits, and environmental conservation. Initiate conversations to educate and make visitors feel welcome
  • Conduct guided tours for school and youth groups, adult groups as well as family groups. These tours can encompass multiple exhibits, focus on a specific region and its wildlife, or concentrate on a specific topic, such as animal adaptations or behavior.
  • Stand and walk for extended periods of time throughout the day (unless using a mobility device such as a wheelchair).
  • Deliver amplified sea lion narration at feeding times. Narrators use a microphone to speak to large audiences 3 times daily.
  • Help our youngest visitors explore the wonders of the Tisch Children's Zoo.
  • Assist the Education Department in implementing summer camp sessions.
  • Attend additional trainings following the initial 9-session CPZ Docent training program. Opportunities for continuing education will be available. Volunteers are required to attend a minimum of three continuing education programs per year.
  • Provide support for a variety of promotional, corporate, private, and special events.
  • Read to children during summer story time activities.
  • Help the Education Department with administrative duties such as record keeping, light administrative duties and preparation of arts and crafts for special events and educational programs.

Why Volunteer?

  • The satisfaction of a meaningful contribution of services to one of the world's leading conservation organizations, WCS.
  • Individual year-round free admission to CPZ and the other 4 WCS facilities (Bronx Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and the New York Aquarium).
  • A 20% discount at the Zootique and 30% discount at the Dancing Crane Café.
  • An additional 25% discount off the WCS member price for seasonal general audience programs offered by the CPZ Education Department.
  • Invitations to attend continued education programs hosted by CPZ staff or other facilities that may provide opportunities for network with others in the field of wildlife conservation.
  • Participation for you plus one guest at the annual Volunteer Recognition Party held in September.
  • Tax deductions for certain expenses incurred as a result of volunteering with CPZ.

Time Commitment Requirements

    • Each incoming volunteer is required to complete a 9-session training course, occurring on Sundays through February and March, followed by a 3-month probationary period.
    • Volunteers are expected to make a minimum 1-year commitment of service to the Central Park Zoo upon successful completion of the training course.
    • Weekday volunteers must commit to working one full day per week; a minimum of 150 hours of annual service.
    • Weekend volunteers must commit to working one full day every other weekend; a minimum of 95 hours of annual service. Arrangements may be made with the Coordinator of Volunteers to work additional days, if desired.
The Central Park Zoo is open every day of the year, including all holidays. The zoo looks to its volunteers for support 365 days a year.


Volunteer Benefits

    • The satisfaction of a meaningful contribution of services to one of the world's leading conservation organizations, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
    • Individual year-round free admission to CPZ and the other 4 WCS facilities (Bronx Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and the New York Aquarium).
    • A 20% discount at the Zootique and 30% discount at the Dancing Crane Café.
    • An additional 25% discount off the WCS member price for seasonal general audience programs offered by the CPZ Education Department.
    • Invitations to attend continued education programs hosted by CPZ staff or other facilities that may provide opportunities for network with others in the field of wildlife conservation.
    • Participation for you plus one guest at the annual Volunteer Recognition Party held in September.
    • Tax deductions for certain expenses incurred as a result of volunteering with CPZ.

Training Program

Volunteer applicants will be interviewed in Fall 2015 by the Coordinator of Volunteers. Those accepted are required to complete a multi-week training program taught by zoo staff. The 9-session training program will take place February and March of 2015. Applicants MUST be available to attend all 9 sessions in order to be accepted into our volunteer program. The cost of training is $100. This includes fees for training refreshments, materials, uniform shirt and explorer vest. Final acceptance of a volunteer into the program is contingent on successful completion of the training course and a 3-month probationary period.


Program Organization

The Coordinator of Volunteers and the Manager of Education are responsible for selecting, supervising, and evaluating volunteers. For each day of the week, a Day Captain will be elected by the day's members or appointed by the Coordinator of Volunteers. The Day Captain is directly responsible for assigning jobs to that day's volunteers, making up a schedule, and maintaining records for the day. Day Captains also serve as the liaison between their day's team and the Coordinator of Volunteers.

Additional questions? Contact the Coordinator of Volunteers at cpzvolunteers@wcs.org.