August 2019


What is a Docent?

The word "docent" is derived from the Latin word meaning "to teach". Becoming a Docent is a great way to share your knowledge and passion for wildlife and conservation. Oakland Zoo's Docent Council was founded in December 1973 by the Education Committee of the East Bay Botanical and Zoological Society. The first Docent class graduated in 1974, and today we have 80 Docents who collectively donated 10,000 hours of service last year!

Docents play an essential role at Oakland Zoo through their interactions with guests. These interactions are one of the primary ways the zoo achieves its mission: to inspire respect for, and stewardship of the natural world while providing a quality visitor experience. Docents inspire curiosity and discovery.
Application Process
Applications are welcome on an ongoing basis for the training that begins in August each year. 

Please note our next training program will be held in August 2019. Interested candidates should download, complete, and submit the application below by June 30, 2019.

Docent Application
All volunteers must attend an orientation meeting. Orientation meetings have been scheduled for May, June, July and August 2019. It is mandatory that applicants attend one of these orientations. We will give an overview of the program, provide a Zoo tour, and briefly interview all candidates. Applicants will be contacted within one week of attending orientation regarding the status of their application and acceptance into the training program. 
Please send your completed application to us via email to our Docent Program, via fax at 510-729-7324, or you may mail a hardcopy to: Oakland Zoo Volunteer Program, PO Box 5238, Oakland, CA 94605
Training Program and Schedule
The Docent Training Program provides a thorough and extensive course of study covering taxonomy, interpretation, Zoo and Docent history, zoology, habitats and adaptations, conservation, customer service, use of biofacts and other interpretives, child development, and safety.
Trainees will participate in lectures, presentations, homework, quizzes, and other activities to prepare them for their roles as Docents. No prior knowledge or experience required. We will provide the information, tools, and ongoing support you need.
The 14-week training program is scheduled August 2019 through December 2019. Classes will be held each Saturday from 8:30am to 3:00pm in the Maddie’s Center for Science and Education.
  • Be age 18 or over
  • Complete an application and submit by the June 30, 2019
  • Attend one of the two mandatory orientation sessions
  • Successfully complete the 14-week training course
  • Pass all coursework and the cumulative written exam
  • Pay the $100.00 training fee
  • Make a 1-year commitment
  • Complete the provisional period
  • Provide documentation of a negative TB test completed within the last year
  • Provide documentation of a current tetanus shot administered within the last seven years
  • Complete 70 hours of volunteer service with direct public contact and earn 4 continuing education credits each year
  • Pay yearly Docent Council Dues ($20.00) and EBZS membership fees (prices/packages vary) after graduation
Benefits of Volunteering
  • Become part of the Oakland Zoo family
  • Meet new people 
  • Share your passion for education, wildlife and conservation
  • Take advantage of opportunities for ongoing education and training 
  • Receive Liability Insurance coverage
  • Participate in our Field Trip Program 
  • Receive discounts at the café and gift shop
  • Ride free on the Train and Skyride 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for more information on Oakland Zoo's Docent Program.

Docents FAQs

For more information please call (510) 632-9525 x141 or email Lisa O'Dwyer, Volunteer Programs Manager

P.O. Box 5238

9777 Golf Links Road Oakland, CA 94605