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Docent Specialist

Do you love to learn? Do you love to share your knowledge with others? Do you love to engage with the public? Are you looking for a rewarding volunteer opportunity?

Docent Specialists are volunteer animal ambassadors, conservation teachers, and Zoo guides who share their knowledge with visitors.

At the end of a brief but comprehensive training in a specific area of study, our Docent Specialists have a unique and deep understanding of specific flora and fauna here at the Zoo, as well as conservation efforts focused on those species and their habitats.

Our Docent Specialists fulfill roles that are as diverse as those performing them. If you love to learn, love animals, and love sharing what you know with others, this is the volunteer program for you!


Our Docent Specialist courses are brief deep-dives into focused areas of zoology, ecology and conservation. Our upcoming specialty course will be focused on those members of Order Carnivora that reside at the L.A. Zoo.

Completely Carnivoran! at a glance:

  • Information Meeting: Saturday, July 6 at 10 a.m.
  • 3 Saturday classes: August 10, August 17, and August 24
  • Equal in-class / in-zoo components
  • Bonus learning activities
  • Learn the answers to these questions and many more: What aquatic carnivoran’s offspring has to be taught how to swim? Maned wolves aren’t actually wolves; what are they? Which felines like to snack on leftovers for days? What are carnassial teeth, and how are they used? Where would you find a pair of follow-me dots? Which carnivores are able to seal their ears shut, and why? What is the “dive response”?

View more information below or click here for the application.


Applicants must enjoy working with children and adults of all ages. This program does not work directly with animals, but engages the public to enrich their knowledge and empathy for wildlife, natural habitats, and conservation efforts.

Special Requirements

  • All Docent Specialists must maintain a family or individual membership with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association.
  • For the safety of the animals, an annual negative tuberculosis test is required.
  • All Docent Specialists must successfully complete a fingerprint background check.
  • All active Docent Specialists are required to attend an annual update session and pass an annual specialist review test.
  • Docent Specialists are volunteer ambassadors and Zoo conservation guides, 15 years of age or older, who have achieved (or are currently completing) a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • Docent Specialists commit to a brief but comprehensive training program, focused on a particular collection of species. Different trainings are offered at regular intervals throughout the year.
  • Docent Specialists dedicate 100 volunteer service hours per year (60 hours per year for high school students), with 50 of these hours focused on specialist opportunities.
  • Classes and volunteer service take place at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Each specialist course focuses on the unique anatomy, adaptations, and ecological niches of select species of animals at the Zoo, as well as ecology, conservation, and the role of zoos in wildlife preservation.

Apply Now!

Note: All volunteers must submit an application through our website, which will be reviewed by our Volunteer Department staff. Depending on the needs of the Zoo at the time, and/or your field of interest and experience, you may be contacted for an interview. Please note, there is limited space in our program. Once accepted into the program, applicants will receive an orientation and appropriate training for specific assignments.