We could not do what we do without the dedicated support of our volunteers. Whether helping with guests, events, or animals, the zoo’s volunteers make every day at the zoo a little better. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Volunteer applications are closed for the season. Please fill out THIS FORM if you would like to be added to our waitlist.
Lincoln Park Zoo welcomes applications from people who identify as disabled, Deaf or chronically ill. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request materials in an alternate format or any other accommodations throughout the application process.
The volunteers at Lincoln Park Zoo are critical to the work that happens each and every day. As a part of the volunteer community, you’ll help us achieve our mission; do practical, helpful work; and build a community—one based in a shared passion for animals and connection.
At the zoo, we are committed to teaching our guests every single day. As a learning volunteer, you’ll teach guests about the wildlife at the zoo and enrich their visit. Positions Include:
The zoo is dedicated to being a beautiful and functional habitat for plants and animals. As a horticulture volunteer, you’ll make a positive, immediate, and restorative contribution to the zoo’s landscape. Positions Include:
We are constantly improving zoo habitats and facilities to make the zoo a better place for animals and guests. As an animal enrichment volunteer, you will assist with construction projects to enrich the lives of animals throughout the zoo. Positions Include:
Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute is seeking volunteers to help identify wildlife in photos taken by motion-activated field cameras. You can help by visiting chicagowildlifewatch.org and following the instructions on the website!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there an age requirement?
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old for ongoing regular volunteer roles.
High school students are eligible for the camp teen volunteer position and some special event roles.
What is the volunteer commitment?
Volunteers commit to six months for seasonal and year-round positions. Our ZooMonitor position is a one-year commitment.
Our seasonal positions typically run from April through October. Those include: Edible Garden volunteer, Nature Boardwalk gardening, and main zoo gardening.
Our year-round positions include: guest engagement volunteer, play assistant, zoo ambassador, ZooMonitor volunteer, and animal enrichment volunteer.
Volunteers come to the zoo once a week on a pre-assigned shift and a typical shift lasts approximately three or four hours.
Do you provide parking?
During the busy season (Memorial Day through Labor Day), volunteers pay $9 to park in the lot on Cannon Drive. From Labor Day to Memorial Day, volunteers can park for free. Lincoln Park Zoo is also accessible by CTA.
Do I get to interact with animals?
The guest engagement volunteer position is the only role at Lincoln Park Zoo that has some limited interaction with the animals. That only happens after the volunteer completes training, and it is subject to change depending on the needs of the animals and/or recommendations from staff.
When should I apply to volunteer at Lincoln Park Zoo?
The best time to apply for summer positions is between January and April.
However, applications for year-round positions are accepted throughout the year.
What is your application process like?
The typical volunteer application process includes:
- Submitting an online volunteer application
- If possible, attending a volunteer information session (held in late winter/early spring)
- Receiving an informational email (if information sessions unavailable)
- Successfully completing an interview
- Completing background check
- Attending orientation
- Attending training
I filled out an application for a volunteer position but have not heard anything. What should I do?
All submitted applications are reviewed, but we only contact applicants who are being invited to interview. If you haven’t heard from us within two weeks, please email email@example.com to find out the status of your application.
Do I have to wear a uniform?
In most cases, yes. Our standard uniform includes a Lincoln Park Zoo polo shirt, khaki colored pants/shorts, and closed-toe shoes. This uniform is required for the following positions: guest engagement volunteer, zoo ambassador, and play assistant.
Main zoo gardening, Nature Boardwalk gardening, and Edible Garden volunteers are required to wear a Lincoln Park Zoo gardening shirt, pants, or shorts of their choosing, as well as closed-toe shoes. ZooMonitor volunteers and animal enrichment volunteers are not required to wear a uniform.
Do I still attend my shift in inclement weather?
Lincoln Park Zoo is open 365 days a year and rarely closes due to adverse weather conditions. We ask that volunteers come in prepared for the weather that day; however, volunteer safety comes first, and there is no penalty for calling off due to weather-related concerns.
Is there a cost associated with volunteering?
There is a one-time $15 fee for all volunteer positions to cover the cost of name tags and ID cards.
How long is zoo orientation?
Zoo orientation is a day-long program that all volunteers and staff members attend. It is typically held on Mondays, but a handful are offered on Saturdays during the spring.
Do volunteers receive discounts?
Zoo volunteers receive discounts on food and non-alcoholic beverages at our restaurants, plus 20% off at our gift shops. Many zoo events have a discounted rate for volunteers. Additionally, free regular admission is offered to volunteers at many local museums and cultural attractions, and there are additional discounts at some local businesses.