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Docent FAQs

A docent shows an animal to children at the Salisbury Zoo.

Have questions about becoming a docent at the Salisbury Zoo? Check out these questions and answers!

How do I become a docent?

Apply for the program through this form. Applicants will be expected to complete a background check as well as a short interview. A one time fee of $50 is also required to cover your name tag and your docent shirt. Once you are accepted into the program, you must complete an in-person training and orientation.

Are there risks associated with working in a zoo?

Working with animals will always contain a certain amount of risk. Many animals and their exhibits can carry diseases that are transmittable to humans; these are known as zoonotic diseases. Not only can humans contract these diseases, but they can also be brought home to your pets, as well. At the Salisbury Zoo, we provide personal protective equipment to protect volunteers while working with our animals. We also encourage frequent handwashing and sanitizing.

Another risk associated with working hands-on with animals is the risk of physical harm to yourself and others. At the Zoo, we have a number of protections in place (equipment, training, barriers, policies, procedures, etc.) to limit those higher-risk-of-injury interactions. Animals are unpredictable, and though injuries are highly unlikely when policies and procedures are followed properly, they can occur. We take safety very seriously at the Zoo and will teach you everything you need to know.

Can I volunteer to help with the animals?

To work directly with our ambassador animals (handling, cleaning, enrichment, etc.), you must volunteer for a minimum of 50 hours and be a volunteer for at least six months. However, you can work indirectly with our animals under staff supervision before the six-month requirement.

What is the time commitment?

The minimum requirement is 50 hours per year, which can be spread out in any way. Twelve hours of that is continuing education, which can be done at the Zoo or at home.

Who can become a docent?

Our commitment to equity and inclusion across race, gender, age, religion, identity and experience is a key component to our Education Department. We welcome everyone ages 16 and older to become a docent; no experience is necessary.

Is there a cost to become a docent?

There is a one-time fee of $50, which covers your name tag and docent shirt that is due at your in-person docent training.

Can I get service-learning hours as a docent?

Yes; however, being a docent is a long-term commitment. If you’re not looking for a long-term volunteer opportunity but still would like to help out at the Zoo, please contact our education department at salisburyzooed@gmail.com to learn more about our service-learning opportunities.

How much experience is needed to become a docent?

No experience is necessary to become a docent. We will teach you everything that you need to know on the job, from animal care to educating. There are also multiple opportunities for continuing education throughout the year.