Learning volunteers

A volunteer helping a visitor in Rainforest Live
Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.

Now recruiting at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo for 2015

Thanks for your interest in volunteering with ZSL! Here’s a bit more about it:

 

The role of volunteers

Volunteers play a very important role in the life of the ZSL. They contribute to the success of ZSL by assisting staff, helping our visitors enjoy their day and providing excellent customer service at our zoos – ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

 

Role description

Learning Volunteers make the difference between a good day, and a great day! They provide a warm and friendly welcome for our visitors, have great stories to tell and things to show people, and give our visitors the chance to ask questions – whether that’s about tigers, tortoises or the nearest toilets. It’s all about providing excellent customer service, while using your enthusiasm and experience to get across our most important message – that animals are amazing.

We will train you so you will feel confident and knowledgeable, and you’ll spend your days moving around different locations at the zoo, usually for an hour at a time.

Whatever you’re doing, you’ll be helping ZSL achieve its mission to conserve animals and their habitats by improving the zoo experience so that our visitors leave feeling really inspired about the natural world.

 

About us

ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo are part of the Zoological Society of London, an international scientific, conservation and education charity whose mission is the conservation of animals and their habitats. We also employ over 70 scientists to carry out research in conservation science and manage conservation programmes in more than 80 countries around the world, including the UK.

ZSL doesn’t receive any government funding to run the two zoos so our income is generated entirely through donations and zoo visitors.

More than 1.5 million people visit the zoos each year and it is our aim to give them a unique and memorable experience, and hopefully inspire an interest in animals and nature.

 

Core activities: Live interpretation

Exhibit Interpretation

Volunteers are based at key animal exhibits to chat to visitors, help them see the animals and answer a range of questions. This is a really important activity, so volunteers need to be confident and pro-active about approaching visitors and engaging them in conversation. We’re there for our visitors come rain or shine too, so do be aware that volunteers are needed at both indoor and outdoor exhibits in all weather conditions. We will provide appropriate clothing to make sure you don’t catch a cold!

Touch Tables and Discovery Zones

Our touch tables display a range of biofacts (biological artefacts!), including skins, skulls and other items for handling and discovery. The emphasis here is on facilitating learning in an informal and enjoyable way, letting visitors explore and think for themselves – not just telling them the answers! People learn in lots of different ways and we will train Volunteers to communicate effectively with a wide range of ages and abilities.

Special activities

We also complement our regular daily activities with lots of different special activities led or supported by volunteers. These activities often change on a seasonal basis. One day you could be helping children to make their own badge to take home, and then on the next day encouraging children to “be a vet” in an imagination learning session.

Attendance

Generally we hope that volunteers come in one day per week or one day per fortnight for our weekend teams.

 

Who are we looking for?

  • Friendly, outgoing people who are articulate, confident, and at ease with approaching visitors.
  • People who understand what great customer service entails and deliver it consistently.
  • Reliability, commitment and regular attendance
  • An interest in animals and conservation
  • A willingness to listen, learn and keep up to date.
  • A good degree of fitness as you will need to walk across the Zoo from one exhibit to another. Activities are mostly standing up and, while a good part of the day is out of doors in all weathers, some activities take place in a tropical climate!

 

What do volunteers get out of it?

  • A chance to be in a team of friendly, like-minded people - other volunteers
  • An opportunity to be involved in an international conservation charity
  • Training and an opportunity to learn new skills

 

How to apply for this volunteer opportunity

Please complete the application form and email it to us at whipsnade.volunteering@zsl.org

Volunteer and Volunteer Intern Application Form (57.64 KB)

  • Closing date for applications: Monday 12th January
  • Likely interview date 7th February
  • Introductory Day(s) in early March, and start of season from 14th March

Volunteers must be over 18 and have a right to work in the UK.

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