January 2023


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 of 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 120 Docents who collectively donated over 12,000 hours of public service last year!

Docents play an essential role at the 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 Fall 2022. 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 the Orientation regarding the status of their application and acceptance into the Docent training program.


Applications are welcome on an ongoing basis for the training that begins in January of each year. Please note our next training program will be held in January 2023. Interested candidates should download, complete, and submit the Docent Application by October 31, 2022. Please send your completed application to us via email to or by mail 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 with our without animal biofacts, Zoo and Docent history, zoology, habitats, adaptations, conservation, customer service, 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 15-week training program is scheduled January 2023 through April 2023. Classes will be held each Saturday from 8:30am to 3:00pm in the Maddie’s Center for Science and Education unless otherwise noted.

Frequently Asked Questions

A Frequently Asked Questions page will be available soon with more information on Oakland Zoo's Docent Program .

For more information please call (510) 632-9525 x141 or email