Junior Zookeeper observing bobcat

Being a Junior Zookeeper allows teens to explore all the different aspects of zoo operations.

Junior Zookeepers

Experience life at Cosley Zoo through our unique Junior Zookeeper program.

What is the Junior Zookeepers program?

The Junior Zookeepers (JZ) program is for young adults in grades 7 through 12 that have a strong interest in science and conservation. Cosley Zoo provides JZs with comprehensive training in animal care, education, and visitor services, diverse opportunities to use that training, and chances to visit other facilities, speak with people in animal and conservation-based careers, and meet other teens with similar interests. In return, the JZs support Cosley Zoo by helping with special events, animal care, and educational programs. Aside from being a lot of fun, the Junior Zookeepers program also helps to build life skills, including leadership, responsibility, time management, and teamwork.

What’s the Commitment?

The Junior Zookeepers program is a year-round commitment that runs from September through August. As a Junior Zookeeper, you can expect to contribute at least 60 hours per year. The program is broken into quarters:

  • Quarter 1: September-November (14 hours required)
  • Quarter 2: December-February (12 hours required)
  • Quarter 3: March-May (10 hours required)
  • Quarter 4: June-August (24 hours required)

How do I earn hours?
Required hours can be earned by attending JZ meetings, signing up for casual interpretation shifts, assisting with zoo events and programs, participating in the Summer Incentives program (if eligible), animal handling (if eligible), conducting animal observations, and more! During the school year most activities take place on the weekends. Meetings are held October-March on the second Saturday of each month from 10A-12P.

What Does It Cost?

The fee for the 2019/2020 year was $200. This included a JZ T-shirt, name tag, and program materials. Additional fees may apply.

Participant Selection

Selection is based on an application, interview, and any past involvement at Cosley Zoo.

How do I apply?

We are not accepting applications for the Junior Zookeepers program at this time. Applications for the 2020/2021 program will be available in June 2020.

Questions about the Junior Zookeepers program can be emailed to Jackie at jkarnstedt@wheatonparks.org.


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