Animal Programming

The Animal and Programming departments’ volunteer program is
designed to have a group of dedicated volunteers act as a support system for the animal keepers.  Volunteers will work alongside animal and programming department staff to provide daily nutritional needs, general care, training, public programs and enclosure maintenance. A volunteer will have the opportunity to advance in the program when they reach the required minimum hours and are evaluated by staff, or they may choose to stay in the level that they are in.

Advancing through the program:

I. Trail Guide: Becoming a Trail Guide at Wildlife Prairie Park is an excellent way to help educate guests that visit the Park.  Trail Guides work as a mobile information center along the trails and interact with visitors to answer many different types of questions.  Trail Guides learn about the different species of animals that are on display at the Park to best answer guest questions. They become familiarized with membership information, upcoming Park events, and programming that will occur that day.
Hours required- minimum 40 hours

II. Enrichment Team:  Enrichment is essential for all our animals here at Wildlife Prairie Park.  Animal enrichment within a zoo is a way for keepers to encourage and stimulate natural behaviors in our animals through sight, smell, taste, touch, and interaction.  Those on the Enrichment Team will work alongside animal keepers to provide a unique enrichment plan based on the needs of each specific animal. Enrichment is a fun way to see the personalities of each animal here at the Park.
Hours required- minimum 40 hours

III. Programming Animal Keeper: Our Volunteer Programming Animal Keepers are responsible for the general care and diet of our Forest Hall animal collection (small mammals, birds of Prey, reptiles and amphibians).  Keepers will learn training techniques; help with enclosure maintenance, cleaning, answer public questions and dietary needs of each animal.  Keepers will be limited on care for birds of prey due to licensing limitations.  Volunteer keepers are also restricted on handling all venomous snakes.
Hours required- minimum 100 hours

IV. Pioneer/ Small Animal Keeper: Pioneer/Small Animal Keepers work with our small animal collection and our pioneer animal collection.  Keepers will be responsible for creating diets, enclosure maintenance, answering guest questions and cleaning enclosures.  Keepers will also be introduced to record keeping and enrichment planning.
Hours required – minimum 100 hours


It will be at this point in the program where volunteers will have the opportunity to choose if they are more interested in specializing their training with animal care or programming.  Each department offers great opportunities for our volunteers.  Since the two departments work so closely together, volunteers will still have the ability to help out where needed.

V. Volunteer Naturalist in Training: A Naturalist in Training will assist full time naturalists with educational programs in Park and off site.  They will learn about scheduling programs, creating programs, what programs are offered and assist naturalists perform programs.  Volunteers will advance at the discretion of the Programming Manager.

Volunteer Animal Keeper in Training: An Animal Keeper in Training will work with full time keepers to learn the safety procedures for the large animal collection in Merrill Woods and the herd animals.  They will also learn the routes animal keepers are responsible for and help them with diets, enclosure maintenance, cleaning schedules, supply ordering and veterinary exams.  Volunteers advance through this section at the discretion of the Animal Curator.

VI. Volunteer Naturalist: Volunteer Naturalists assist/lead speaker for public programming on site and off site. Volunteers will also assist in the training of volunteers new to the program.  Volunteer Naturalist take on more of a lead role as they work alongside full time Naturalist staff members with the educational message of the Park.

Volunteer Animal Keeper:  Volunteer Animal Keepers perform all of the same animal care tasks as full time animal keeper staff and assist with training new volunteers in the program.  This gives volunteers more of hands on experience with the animal collection here at Wildlife Prairie Park.

VII. Volunteer Bird of Prey Keeper: Volunteers learn how to properly handle birds for transportation, programming, veterinary care, general maintenance of talons and beaks, and weight checks.  This requires an enormous amount of dedication due to the restrictions set forth by U.S. Fish and Wildlife.  Volunteers need to be added to the permit prior to working with the birds of prey at this level.  Individualized training programs would be created depending on the birds of interest the volunteer has.

Enrichment Team Leader:  This is an opportunity available for those interested in leading the team of volunteers that create the daily enrichment for all the animals in the Park.  The Enrichment Team Leader would work alongside the full time animal keeper that is the lead for our enrichment program.  Volunteers have the ability to create new furniture for our large animal collection and be creative with keeping the animals entertained.

Questions? Please contact the Volunteer Coordinator at
Direct: (309) 676-0998 ext. 102


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