Discounted Programs

August 2019


October-March, Monday-Friday

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

Orientation Meeting

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.


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 Docent Application by June 30, 2019. 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.

Benefits of Volunteering

Frequently Asked Questions

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

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