We are no longer accepting applications for the 2014 season.

Zoo Champions for Restoring Endangered Wildlife (Zoo CREW) is an immersive volunteer program at the Philadelphia Zoo where teens can become conservation ambassadors, gain experience working with animals, and take action for animal conservation. Zoo CREW teens have amazing experiences and make life-long memories while developing their career and professional skills. Applicants must currently be in 9th grade. Preference is given to students from challenged communities.

Since 1996, the Philadelphia Zoo has hosted over 300 students from ages 14-18 in its intensive award-winning urban youth program, which has proven to be a wonderful platform for educational success, boasting a 100% high school graduation rate and a 96% college matriculation rate over the past eighteen years. Zoo CREW students spend three years at the Zoo participating in meaningful community service, building civic and environmental responsibility, and overall strengthening connections among the underserved communities. Through this program the Zoo demonstrates its commitment to fostering the next generation of wildlife and environmental stewards by giving students the opportunity to take their knowledge out into their neighborhoods and communities.

Program Overview

Zoo CREW is a tiered program and students have the ability to rise through the levels based on performance. Students can participate in the program from 1-4 years.

Level 1: Students volunteer to learn what it takes to be a Zoo Conservation Steward.

Level 2: Students volunteer to learn public speaking, presentation and interpretation skills. Students also participate in workshops to understand wildlife environmental issues and develop professional skills.

Level 3: Students volunteer to learn basic animal handling and husbandry skills and continue to participate in educational workshops. Students also have the opportunity to participate in off-site trips to help animals and habitats and in work that addresses important conservation issues and projects..

Level 4: Students volunteer to learn more advanced animal care, handling and husbandry, public speaking, presentation and interpretive skills. Students continue work to address important conservation issues and participating in educational workshops on wildlife and conservation issues. Students continue to have the opportunity to participate in off-site trips to help protect animals and habitats and have to opportunity to apply for paid stipend or seasonal work.

Additional Opportunities
• College preparation trainings
• Career development events
• Mentoring and guidance opportunities
• College visits
• Potential to earn college scholarship money

Zoo CREW Benefits

One of the many benefits of Zoo CREW is that students get to work with animals! Zoo CREW participants are specially trained to work with many of the animals in the KidZooU teaching collection. Students are also exposed to many new life experiences and meet peers from all over the Philadelphia area. Zoo Champions, like all Philadelphia Zoo volunteers and employees, are also entitled to free Zoo passes, discounts on food, beverages and merchandise, and invitations to special recognition events.

Zoo CREW Eligibility

  • Applicants must be at least 14 years old as of July 1.
  • Preference is given to students from lower-income families or challenged communities.

Zoo CREW Requirements

All program members must complete all program offerings in accordance to the attendance and performance policy in order to be eligible for program benefits. All potential program members should be aware that they may be required to volunteer both Saturdays and Sundays. Program members are expected to maintain excellent attendance, punctuality and conduct. If you are involved in other extracurricular activities, you are not excused from your commitment to Zoo CREW. Uniform shirts and sweatshirts will be provided; students must provide their own khaki pants and sturdy shoes.

Zoo CREW Availability

Zoo CREW is a program that requires active participation year round. It is not a summer only program! Students are expected to be available to volunteer any day of the week, including weekends, during the summer and either weekend day during the school year. When a Zoo Champion graduates from high school, they also graduate from Zoo CREW. At that point, the Zoo Champion will be invited to join the alumni group and may be asked to help with student workshops and student mentoring.

Zoo CREW Application

Please keep in mind that Zoo CREW is a very competitive program, and only 10 students are accepted each year. Early applicants have a better chance of acceptance into the program. A new Zoo CREW class is recruited each spring. Applications will be accepted until May 1st. Call 215-243-5310 for more information.

Apply now online or download the PDF application.