San Antonio Zoo’s Wildlife Allies inspires our future generations to LEAP for wildlife. We provide meaningful life experiences with opportunities to be leaders, educators, and stewards in the San Antonio community. Wildlife Allies are taught valuable skills in the form of nature interpretation, and public speaking. Our teen volunteers assist San Antonio Zoo to secure a future for wildlife and the places they live.
Teens, 13-17 years old, who are passionate about conservation, animal care, science, and education will gain practical experience and develop skills in educational interpretation while acting to secure a future for wildlife. Wildlife Allies support the zoo’s mission to Love, Engage, Act, and Protect animals and the places they live.
These like-minded teens who are passionate about nature will mentor future generations, inspire guests of all ages, help protect the environment, and participate in community science.
Accepted Wildlife Allies must attend the first instructional session of each month, attendance for the remaining sessions within each month is strongly encouraged but not mandatory. Each month will cover a topic related to conservation, animals, and the zoo. Extra service opportunities will be available in addition to instructional sessions.
Characteristics of volunteers that thrive in this opportunity:
- Passionate about conserving wildlife and the places they live
- Public speaking roles, or willingness to learn public speaking
- Public facing roles, with many guest interactions daily
- Outdoor activities and a variety of weather conditions
- Opportunities to learn and gain experience for careers in animal care, veterinary science, wildlife conservation, education, or other related fields.
Accommodations and Accessibility
San Antonio Zoo believes anyone can and should be able to become a Wildlife Ally. Teens of all abilities are welcome to join, and all participants will be provided mentoring, training time, and constructive feedback in the program.
Our volunteer’s experience will include:
- Adhering to San Antonio Zoo’s policies and procedures
- Walking over uneven ground
- Spending several hours at a time outdoors
- Sticking to a schedule, time management, and task prioritization
- Keeping a professional and positive attitude while on Zoo property
- Working together with fellow Wildlife volunteers, Docents (adult volunteers), and Zoo staff
- Engaging guests respectfully, and kindly
- Wearing a smile!
Please assist us in providing the best experience for our prospective Wildlife Allies by informing us of any special considerations prior to participating in our program. This may include information on your teen’s allergies, accessibility concerns, behavioral, psychological, or emotional conditions as well as any other special needs. Our goal is to help your teen succeed! Please contact our teen volunteers program at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to make an accommodation request. Currently, we are unable to provide one-on-one support or supplementary services.
Session Dates and Details:
Fall 2023 $60
Applications now open!
- Sunday: 10th
- Sunday: 17th
- Sunday: 24th
- Sunday: 15th
- Sunday: 22nd
- Sunday: 29th
- Sunday: 5th
- Sunday: 12th
- Sunday: 26th
You must attend the first session of each month. Other dates strongly encouraged, but optional.
Winter 2023 $60
Spring 2024 $90
Summer 2024 $120
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can apply for Wildlife Allies?
Students ages 13-17 who are passionate about wildlife and conservation.
Will I be working with zoo animals?
Wildlife Allies have exclusive opportunities throughout San Antonio Zoo that offer unique glimpses into conservation as well as behind the scenes insights. Animal care shifts are not currently offered to volunteers.
Are scholarships available?
What if I cannot attend a mandatory session?
There is no penalty, but there are no make-up sessions. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know if your teen is unable to attend a specific date.
What supplies do I need to bring?
Please bring a lunch, water bottle, sunscreen, and comfortable walking shoes.
Who will be supervising the program?
A member of the Education staff is always present to support and mentor throughout the day.
How many volunteer hours will be available per quarter?
Each mandatory session is six hours. Additional opportunities for service are available seasonally and will be posted to the volunteer portal.
Can I apply if my birthday lands within a session (I.e., 12 turning 13, 17 turning 18)?
You must be 13 years old to apply.
If turning 18, you may complete your current session.
Can I add this to my college application?
Yes. Reference letters may be requested upon completion.
Are masks required?
If you have not received your Covid-19 vaccine you will need to wear a mask at the zoo. If you are vaccinated, mask wearing is at your discretion. Please note, this is subject to change.
How many participants are accepted per session?
Space is limited. Thoughtfully complete your application today.
Will this include a zoo membership?
Memberships are not included in the Wildlife Allies program.
What if there is extreme weather?
San Antonio Zoo observes safety standards in accordance with a severe weather matrix. If there is inclement weather, Wildlife Allies will be kept safe.
What is the application process?
- Submit your application online
- Once the application period ends, all applications will be reviewed
- You will receive an email from Wildlife Allies with your next steps
May I submit a Letter of Recommendation?
Absolutely. However, it is not needed for consideration.
What is the schedule for Wildlife Allies on session dates?
Each month, Wildlife Allies may attend three offered service dates. The program operates from 9:30am – 4:00pm. In the morning, Wildlife Allies explore an animal/nature/conservation related topic in-depth. This may include Behind-the-Scenes visits, animal encounters, special speakers, zoo tours, experiential programs, and/or group projects. Then, after lunch, they venture back into the zoo to engage guests to LEAP with mission-focused encounters. A member of the Education staff is always present to support and mentor the teens throughout their day.
Program refunds are not offered.
Please refer to mandatory dates to choose the session that is right for you.