Animal Care Opportunities

If you love animals, want to help, or want to start a career working with animals, then we have several options for you. Animal Care Volunteers are a group of dedicated adults who have a lttle extra time during the week and don't mind getting dirty. Volunteers work alongside the Keepers and assist with daily animal care. Our Internship Program offers a more indepth experience for those who are looking to start a career in animal care or veterinary medicine. And if you are interested in studying, observing, or learning more about animal behavior, then our Behavioral Observation Team is the right program for you. All of our programs are designed for adults age 18 and older who are truly passionate about working with animals.

Animal Care Volunteers

Volunteer helping Work alongside a keeper, assisting with daily animal care: cleaning of exhibits and night houses, chopping diets, raking, hosing, making enrichment items, and much more. Our volunteers in the animal care department are an integral part of the daily care of the animals. Thanks to the time and dedication given by our volunteers, the animals' lives are more enriched.


  • Be age 18 or older.
  • Be willing to commit to regular attendance at the Zoo for four consecutive hours per week.
  • Be able to commit to volunteering for at least six months.
  • Be available to work either 8:00am - 12:00pm or 12:30pm - 4:30pm.
  • Have a negative TB test within one year.
  • Have a current tetanus shot within seven years.
  • Attend a New Volunteer Information Meeting. (Generally held in January, May, and August.)

Application Process
Download and complete the Oakland Zoo Animal Care Volunteer Application. Submit your completed application via email or mail to: Oakland Zoo Volunteer Program, P.O. Box 5238, Oakland, CA 94605.

Application Deadlines
May 1st (Summer Session), August 1st (Fall Session), December 1st (Winter Session).
**Due to the volume of applications received, spaces are limited.**

Please call (510) 632-9525 x141 or email us if you have additional questions regarding our Animal Care Volunteer Program.
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Animal Care Internships

Interns at the Zoo. The intern program is designed to help applicants determine if a career with animals is right for you. It also offers valuable experience to those who are planning to apply to vet school or looking to persue a job in the animal care field. You will learn, hands on, all the husbandry techniques that it takes to care for the animals at the zoo. You will be given the opportunity to gain valuable skills, on-the-job training and experience that will be a great asset to you in the future as you continue to pursue your career.

Interns have the opportunity to do a project to increase their knowledge of one of the species that they work. You will learn how to enhance the animal's lives through various enrichment means. Interns will also attend several classes during the program to further increase their knowledge about all aspects of zoo keeping and animal care.

Please note: All internships are unpaid and housing is the responsibility of the individual.


  • Must be 18 or older.
  • Must commit to volunteering at least 16-36 hours per week. Your schedule will depend on your own availability and must be consistent for the duration of the internship.
  • Must complete 288 hours of service over a 12-18 week period. The duration of the program will vary depending on the number of hours per week that you volunteer.
  • All interns should have a basic interest in animals, an ability to get along with others, and a professional/neat demeanor.
  • Interns must take directions well and pay careful attention to procedures and established protocols.
  • They should follow instructions and carry out their responsibilities in a safe and careful manner in order to avoid injury to themselves, to employees, to visitors, and to the animals.
  • They must be physically able to perform cleaning, feeding, and general husbandry tasks for animals in various weather conditions.
  • Must be able to lift up to 50 pounds regularly.
  • Weekend and holiday work may be required.
  • Interns are required to work as a team and with minimal supervision.
  • Participants must adjust to changes the daily routines.

Internship Timetable
If you are a student, due to the considerable differences between the end dates for semester and quarter-system schools, the start dates for the summer session will vary greatly depending on when your school year ends. Whether you start at the beginning or the end of that time frame, you will still get the same program experience.

There are three intern sessions available each year:
Summer: May - September (start date is flexible between May 15 - June 25). Application Deadline - 3/15
Fall: September - December. Application Deadline - 7/15
Winter: January - April. Application Deadline - 11/15

Application Process
Download and complete the Oakland Zoo Intern Application. Please attach a cover letter explaining why you are applying (limit 500 words), a resumé or copy of your transcript, and two letters of recommendation. Submit your entire application packet or via email or mail to: Oakland Zoo Volunteer Program, P.O. Box 5238, Oakland, CA 94605.

After we recieve an application packet we will review the information, contact applicants for an interview, decide which applicants best match our currents needs and then determine which Animal String they will be placed at. Candidates selected for the program will receive an acceptance email. Once an applicant is accepted in the program, a $50.00 program fee is required as well as proof of a negative tuberculosis test (within the last year) as well as a tetanus shot (within the last seven years). These items must be turned in before you start volunteering with the Animal Care, Conservation, and Research Department. Final acceptance is dependent upon a background check. All housing and transportation costs are the responsibility of the intern.

Please email us or call (510) 632-9525 x169 if you have more questions about our Animal Care Internship Program.
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Behavioral Observation Team

For anybody who is interested in animal behavior as a career or simply for interest and fun, Oakland Zoo's Behavioral Observation team is for you. Behavioral Observation Team (BOT) volunteers work with our zookeepers to monitor the animals under their care. BOT volunteers are assigned to a project where they use observational skills and techniques to collect data about animal behavior.

Learn the specifics of scientific animal observations in a two hour orientation offered up to three times per year, depending on the need for help. Behavioral Observation Team (BOT) volunteers work with our zookeepers to monitor the animals under their care. New volunteers may begin on a short-term project to build their skills in observation technique and data collection. Examples of these projects are: new animal arrivals, introductions, sick animals, etc. Volunteers may then go on to join a long-term project collecting information on activity budgets and social interactions of the species of interest.

Weather depending, volunteers will stand or sit outside of exhibits and monitor animals by using long-hand descriptions, data sheets or observation computers. Keepers will personally train volunteers on the projects and check in with them to answer questions. If available, keepers will also share and discuss analyzed data with volunteers.
Note: These volunteers do not work behind-the-scenes helping with the daily husbandry of the animals. Most observations take place in the visitor pathways.


  • Be willing to commit to regular attendance at the Zoo for a minimum of two hours.
  • Be able to commit to volunteering for at least nine months.
  • Be flexible with shift hours anywhere from 8:00am to 4:00pm, project depending.
  • Attend a New Volunteer Information Meeting. Please check the events calendar for the next orientation date.
  • Attend the BOT Orientation, dates TBA. Please check the events calendar for the next orientation date.

Application Process
We are not currently taking applications for this program. Please check again in the future for openings.

Please call (510) 632-9525 ext. 266 or email us if you have additional questions regarding our Behavioral Observation Team Volunteer Program.

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