Volunteer or Intern at the Zoo
MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE EACH YEAR!
We invite you to explore the Zoo’s volunteer opportunities and internship program. The Brandywine Zoo depends on people like you for support of its commitment to providing excellent care for our animals, a great experience for visitors and a better future for all living things.
Due to operational impacts from COVID-19, we are not hiring additional interns at this time. Please keep up to date by following our social media pages and look for our future postings on AZA’s Job Board.
If you have questions or comments, please call the Volunteer Manager at 302-440-6590 or email Danielle.Levredge@delaware.gov.
Animal Care Internships
Full-Time Keeper Apprentice
Filled/Closed for 2021. 1 year commitment, stipend, housing
Summer Part-Time Keeper Intern
Filled/Closed for 2021. 3 month commitment, no stipend, no housing
Conservation Research Apprentice
1 year commitment, stipend, housing
Conservation Education Apprentice
9-12 month commitment, stipend, housing
Outdoor Summer Camp Intern
3 month commitment, stipend, no housing
Program Animal Intern
Filled/Closed for 2021. 6 month commitment, no stipend, housing [off-season]
Summer Program Animal Intern
Filled/Closed for 2021. 3 month commitment, no stipend, no housing
Traveling Zoo Intern
Filled/Closed for 2021. 6 month commitment (flexible), no stipend, housing (off-season)
Graphics and Marketing Intern
12-15 weeks minimum commitment, no stipend, no housing
At this time, the program is at capacity for 2021. Please check back in January for registration for the 2022 season.
Docent = “Volunteer Teacher”
Come be a part of life at the Brandywine Zoo! As a Docent, you’ll guide guests through the world of wildlife, answer questions about or narrate animal behavior and be a part of creating or sustaining the lifelong love of animals in our guests. Docents will be a large part of our changing interface here at the zoo. You’ll be a member of a critical team that assists the Brandywine Zoo staff in making sure our guests walk out of the zoo more knowledgeable and prepared to think about our animals and conservation solutions out in the world.
The Brandywine Zoo Education Department is seeking fun, mature and engaging volunteers for the Docent Program. These volunteers complete a series of 5 required formal trainings, a final exam and final presentation (trainings may be in-person at the Zoo, all virtual, or a mix of both for our Docents and Staff’s safety). The Brandywine Zoo’s Docent Program offers a new level of benefits, responsibility and commitment for individuals who can contribute consistent service and dedication to the Brandywine Zoo.
Location: Brandywine Zoo – Wilmington, DE
Supervisor: Education Staff and Volunteer Manager
Schedule: 2 shifts/month and a minimum of 70 hours/year
Apply: September 1 – December 31
Training Dates: For program year 2021, dates are to be determined and will be shared by email with applicants when they are scheduled.
- Applicants must be 18+ years old.
- Willing and able to complete a background check performed by the Division of Parks and Recreation.
- Fluent in the English language (verbally and via written communication).
- Provide proof of negative TB Test within the last 12 months before start date.
- Must have an interest in working with the general public and effective public speaking skills such as enthusiasm, voice inflection, and varied facial expressions.
- Candidates must exhibit consistent professional characteristics such as a punctuality, positive attitude, initiative, emotional maturity and self-responsibility.
- Able to commit to upholding all Zoo safety and personnel policies, and support the overall mission of the Brandywine Zoo.
- Operate “Discovery Boxes” and handle rare (often fragile) biofacts: pelts, bones, etc.
- Conduct tours of the zoo for groups and individuals.
- Give audio-visual presentations on observations and interpretations of animal behavior.
- Participate in the zoo’s special events as schedule allows.
- Handle and present all program animals as programming dictates (this may include small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates)
- Other duties as assigned
- Follow all Brandywine Zoo and Delaware State Policies and Procedure
Registration & Dues
Pre-registration and interview attendance is required. Dues covered by Delaware State Parks.
Training: A hallmark of the program, Docents receive training from the field experts they will be working with. In addition to this formal and informal training to successfully conduct their Docent presentations, Docents will have the opportunity to build associated skills and share real-time experience with park staff and colleagues. Training will be made available to the Docents to further their personal and professional development. Additionally, the position will develop critical skills for those interested in a career in education, conservation, natural resource management, animal management, or ecological studies.
Opportunities for school credit or Continuing Education Credit are available.
San Diego Zoo Global: Full and free access to the San Diego Zoo Global Academy online course-list for the duration of the internship; certificate upon completion.
Networking: Access to 180+ years of professional experience and knowledge via current zoo staff.
Activities: Docents will have the opportunity not only to visit ALL Delaware State Parks at no fee, but also participate in many of the tours, programs, and associated events for free. Delaware State Parks span the length of the state and whether it be canoeing at Trap Pond State Park, surfing at Delaware Seashore State Park, attending a concert at Bellevue State Park, or touring the living history facility at Fort Delaware, there is certainly something for everyone.
All Delaware State Parks volunteers are required to undergo and successfully complete a background check performed by the Division.
Due to limited program sizes from COVID-19 considerations, there will be no VolunTEEN program for the summer of 2021. Please consider monitoring the Delaware State Parks Youth Summer Calendar for more teen-focused opportunities at our local state parks.
Summer Camp Counselors
Camp counselors will work M-F for their selected weeks assisting our Zoo Camp Staff with on-site camps. Counselors will help lead activities and games, assist staff with managing campers, and contribute to an overall FUN and educational camp for our campers! For information on the camps you will help lead, please visit our Summer Camps page.
Shifts: 8:30AM-4PM, M-F, minimum of 2 weeks
Barnyard monitors will assist zoo guests in friendly interactions with the goats during their visit. This includes interpreting the goats, showing how to gently interact, and even brushing the goats. Goat yard monitors may also be asked to clean and rake the barnyard during their shift.
Shifts: 9AM – 12PM or 12PM – 4PM, but mornings preferred. Minimum 100 hours, preferable to select one reoccurring weekday.
Talk to our guests about our animals, assist with animal demonstrations or shows.
Shifts: 9:45AM – 12PM or 12PM – 4PM, but full days are preferable. Minimum 100 hours, preferable to select one reoccurring weekday.
Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring
The Brandywine Zoo’s American Kestrel nest box program started in 2014 and was the first in-situ field conservation project conducted by the Zoo in its 109 year history. To this day, while operating on a shoestring budget, with one stipended research apprentice and 6-8 volunteer monitors, we are fully committed to learning as much about this small falcon as we can.
From 2014-16, the Zoo operated primarily independently in installing and monitoring nest boxes, but in 2016 we formally formed the Delaware Kestrel Partnership (DKP) to include other resource partners in the state in this effort to study Kestrels. Today, the DKP is made up of The Brandywine Zoo, The Delaware Zoological Society, Delaware Fish and Wildlife, Delaware State Parks, Delmarva Ornithological Society (DOS), Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, Delaware Nature Society, and The Peregrine Fund’s American Kestrel Partnership (AKP), in addition to a number of public lands groups and private landowners.
This Partnership has allowed the Zoo to develop protocols and knowledge sharing opportunities, investigate historic Kestrel research in Delaware, and work as a group to determine the underlying cause(s) to Kestrel population decline in the State.
Banding opportunities are invite-only by either the Curator of Education and Conservation or the Conservation Research Apprentice.
Peregrine Fledge Monitoring
In partnership with the Delaware Ornithological Society’s (DOS) long-running Peregrine Falcon nest monitoring project, The Brandywine Zoo is helping to coordinate volunteer monitoring efforts during falcon fledging.
Since 1992, DOS has been monitoring a nesting pair of Peregrine Falcons who annually take up residence in a man-made nest box in Downtown Wilmington each year. The current falcons are “Trinity” and “Red Girl,” and the live webcam hosted by DOS sees up to 10,000 viewers per day during peak nesting season!
For more details about this project, please visit the DOS Wilmington Peregrine Falcon Watch web page.
HELP US MONITOR FALCON FLEDGLINGS AS THEY TAKE THEIR FIRST FLIGHTS!
Each year, as the season’s new falcon chicks approach fledging (taking their first flight), volunteer monitors are brought together to watch for these first harrowing flights. Volunteers take two-hour shifts from just before dawn to just after dusk to watch for these flights. This is important because sometimes the fledglings end up “grounding” themselves (they end up on the ground and don’t have the wing strength necessary to get enough lift to get to a higher location) and, because of their inexperience with flying cannot get back up to their nest.
Volunteers will go recover the fledgling and return it to the roof of the Brandywine Building if this happens.
Fledgling monitoring usually occurs around Memorial Day, and lasts from 7-10 days.
If you’re interested in becoming a monitor, you may apply to become a volunteer through Delaware State Parks. Select the Zoo and specify that you want to be involved with the peregrine project.
Urban Wildlife Information Network
In the fall of 2017, The Brandywine Zoo partnered with the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute (UWI) to conduct passive monitoring of wildlife within the State of Delaware. This project specifically focuses on monitoring green spaces inside and outside of Wilmington, Delaware at field sites along an urban to rural gradient. This monitoring project is conducted using game cameras placed along a transect running through rural to urban areas in New Castle County. The images and activities observed will be used to help connect people to nature and educate the public about the importance of biodiversity within a natural community.
The Urban Wildlife Information Network(UWIN), is a collaborative group of cities working on urban wildlife projects across North America. The Brandywine Zoo was the first the organization on the East Coast partnered with the UWIN, which is now in more than 20 cities across the continent, as well as the first additional zoo to partner with Lincoln Park Zoo for this initiative. We joined with the goal to study and report on urban wildlife activities in the Delaware valley to the greater network, but also to better connect our own communities to the wildlife in our backyards.
2019 UWIN Partners Map
One goal of UWIN is to provide resources to study, conserve, and manage wildlife from the city to individual site level. Collaboration with UWIN partners includes other urban wildlife monitoring programs across North America, but also with city planners, landscape architects, and land managers, who are all working together to develop, inform, and guide urban wildlife conservation efforts in the future. Our partnership also provides quality information that can help advance scientific understanding of urban wildlife species and their behaviors. These advances in understanding can aid city planners and architects on best-use-practices for decreasing the impacts human activities have on urban wildlife populations.
Volunteers for this project would help our research team deploy cameras around New Castle County, Delaware for our monitoring efforts. Various camera deployment projects range from three times a month, four times per year (January, April, July, and October deployments) to several other ongoing projects that take place year-round.
At minimum, a volunteer for this project would be assigned 3-5 camera locations for the seasonal deployments (January, April, July, and October deployments), where they would deploy cameras prior to the first of the month, check back on cameras at two weeks for battery life and memory cards, and pull cameras from the field at 1 month (no less than 28 days after deployment). Deployments and maintenance, depending on location, could take up to an hour per site, plus driving time, but could feasibly be completed in one day or two half-days.
This opportunity requires being outdoors, in all weather, for extended periods of time, bending, lifting, or carrying sometimes heavy objects, traversing uneven or even slippery terrain outdoors, crossing streams, climbing riverbanks, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
COVID-19 Statement from Delaware State Parks
All Delaware State Parks remain open during this time. However, we are encouraging volunteers to carefully consider minimizing contact, to practice social distance in the parks, and to wear a facial covering as mandated by the updated State of Emergency guidelines and park rules. Volunteers will self-monitor and communicate with their supervisor about any symptoms or illness to determine if reporting to the zoo is appropriate. Our Barn Yard will be closed to the public (and thusly to volunteers) for the foreseeable future.
When will I hear back regarding my application?
Since we receive so many applications, please be patient! Keep in mind that incomplete applications will not be considered. Be sure to check the email address listed on your application, including spam folders! If it has been 2 weeks or longer since you’ve submitted your application, please reach out to the Volunteer Manager, Danielle.Levredge@delaware.gov.
Will I need a background check?
Every volunteer and intern over 18 will receive a background check as a part of their onboarding package. VolunTEENs 16+ who will assist in supporting our summer camp programs will receive an adjusted DCYF background check.
Am I allowed to touch or interact with the animals when I volunteer?
For the safety of our animals and staff, opportunities that work directly with animals are reserved for our internship program and select Docents who have been invited for the required training. All Docents and VolunTEENs will have the opportunity to work in our Barn Yard after completing training.
Can I volunteer with friends from a local group or co-workers?
Yes! We welcome groups from any organization to come and help out every Thursday throughout the year – as needed – and for any special event listed on our calendar.
What should I be prepared for when I volunteer?
Work in the zoo field is often dirty business – please wear closed toed shoes and khaki pants that you don’t mind getting roughing up. Brandywine Zoo’s perimeter is rife with poison ivy so please be prepared for potential contact if you are working in the perimeter; those with extreme sensitivity or ivy allergy should abstain from landscaping opportunities.
If I volunteer will this lead to a job at the zoo?
The experience gained through volunteering will help when it comes to applying for jobs and for interviews. But you would still have to apply and compete for any job; there is no guarantee of employment.
What if I get hurt during my volunteer service?
Volunteers engage in volunteer activities at their own risk and are responsible for their own actions.
There is an optional CIMA VIS Volunteer Accident Insurance policy available at no charge to any registered Delaware State Parks volunteer and provided by the Friends of Killens Pond State Park. The policy is in excess of any other health insurance that volunteers may have in place. Should a volunteer not have insurance, this policy would be primary based on policy requirements.
By providing this insurance, the Friends of Killens Pond State Park in no-way assumes liability or responsibility for any volunteer participating in Delaware State Parks. Volunteers electing to use this insurance have to sign a waiver acknowledging this understanding.
The policy does not include Excess Automobile Liability Insurance.
How many internship positions do you have?
During our most active time (summer) we have 16 interns operating simultaneously. Please visit check the intern tab for more information.
Can I serve court-mandated community service?
Currently, we do not accept those who need court-mandated community service hours. Please contact Delaware State Parks through their online inquiry form in order to be matched to a park that can provide that opportunity.
If I'm an international applicant, will I be considered?
Visa/Citizenship: Only United State citizens or for those eligible to work in the United States with a US Social Security number may participate in the Delaware State Parks and Brandywine Zoo Internship Program. Delaware State Parks and the Brandywine Zoo cannot sponsor a work visa at this time. More information on working in the United States can be found here and here. In addition, we would require a background check from a law enforcement agency corresponding to the applicant’s address and have it translated into English by a certified translator for our review.
Driving/License: Applicants will also need to obtain a US driver’s license to operate a vehicle for Delaware State Parks during their duties and will need to provide their own transportation to and from our work locations. Information on Delaware’s regulations for driver’s license applicants can be found here.
Financial: Any fees incurred by moving would be the applicant’s responsibility. Delaware State Parks and the Brandywine Zoo will not reimburse any relocation fees. We also recommend looking into the cost of health insurance through the Healthcare Marketplace prior to applying if you don’t already have coverage. Delaware State Parks does not provide health insurance for interns.