You will learn about zoo horticulture from experts in the field, assist with the installation of large scale exhibits and work outside surrounded by animals while enriching their environment with plants. You will be involved in increasing the beauty of the zoo by planting rotating annual bed, bulbs, and perennial beds specific to the habitat of the surrounding animals. These plantings greatly impact our quests experience. Volunteers within this team must be able to commit to a schedule from March 1 – October 31, provide a negative tuberculosis test, work in the elements and be comfortable doing manual labor.
Areas Horticulture Volunteers work
- Browse Collection: Volunteering with Denver Zoo’s browse program is an exciting opportunity to be involved with an essential aspect of animal care by helping to provide high quality, fresh-cut branches, leaves, and flowers to the browsing herbivores in our collection. In this capacity, you will work with the Browse Specialist to help plant and maintain browse gardens throughout zoo grounds, both on and off public display. In addition to plant trimming, bundling, weighing and delivering, this work will include digging, weeding, pruning and other horticulture activities. At times, you will also work closely with the Production Coordinator to maintain plant collections in the Greenhouse and Plant Nursery.
- Greenhouse: Being a horticulture volunteer in the greenhouse is a fun and challenging opportunity. At the greenhouse we are surrounded by a unique exotic plant collection, browse for the animals at the Zoo and production for the many gardens that make the Denver Zoo extra spectacular. As a volunteer in the greenhouse, you will contribute to the beautiful grounds of the Zoo through transplanting and caring for bedding plants in production, manage the specialty collection by researching plants and animal relationships, plant habitat needs and technical care, provide general greenhouse support to include under bench weeding, pot washing, sweeping, repotting and propagating plants in addition to other tasks as they arise.
- Primate Panorama and Woodland Gardens: Volunteers with this team will help create the natural woodland gardens throughout Primate Panorama. Some areas contain vast tropical displays from the greenhouse that encourage our guest to feel like they have stepped into a jungle. This area works with a lot of shade-tolerant plant species. This team also maintains the Pollinator garden, which teaches our guests the importance of our native pollinators.
- Toyota Elephant Passage and Tropical Discovery: This team works in Toyota Elephant Passage to create a tropical Asian experience. During the summer, citrus trees, mangos, ferns, and palms are added to the site from our greenhouse selections. The Northern Shores exhibit, Tigers, and Hoof Stock areas are planted with a large variety of perennials, grasses, and shrubs. Northern Shores also has an Alpine Plants garden. Volunteers help plants, maintain and harvest the zoos organic vegetable garden which is used to teach students about gardening and sustainability practices. The produce is used to help feed many of the animals around the zoo.
- Xeriscape and Native Gardening in Front Entrance and Predator Ridge: Volunteers working in this area will help plant and maintain the major annual plant displays in and around the front entrance and Predator Ridge. These displays will change from massive displays of spring bulbs, to sun-loving annuals, and finally cold-hardy annuals as the season’s progress. Large container gardens around our front entrance create a welcoming atmosphere as guests arrive at the zoo. You will also be involved in arranging the amazing succulent displays that are maintained in the greenhouse during the offseason.
Horticulture volunteers must maintain an active volunteer status and provide a negative TB test result. They are required to make a commitment of at least 2 shifts per month between April and October.
*Please note: Applications to the Denver Zoo Volunteer Program exceed the number of available positions in each training class. The selection of new volunteers is based on matching applicants with current zoo needs.