Volunteer at the Zoo

Thanksgiving Day

The Zoo will be closed on Thursday, November 22 for the holiday.


Volunteering at the Zoo is as fun as it is rewarding. Find out everything you need to know about becoming a docent, volunteer diver, or zoo teen.


Docents are women and men who volunteer a minimum of 60 hours per year and must be a minimum of 18 years of age.

Some of the activities docents take part in:

  • Conduct tours in the Zoo and PPG Aquarium
  • Provide information to visitors at animal exhibits
  • Perform observational research
  • Assist at Zoo special events
  • Visit community groups with small animals
For more information about becoming a docent, email volunteer@pittsburghzoo.org or call 412-365-2524.

Zoo Teens

The Zoo Teens summer volunteer program is available for students ages 14 to 17. It is a great way to learn more about animals and zoo careers.

This program is full for the summer of 2018. We are no longer taking calls for new Zoo Teen registration. Returning Zoo Teens will receive a letter in the mail.

You can contact the Volunteer Coordinator at 412-365-2524 or volunteer@pittsburghzoo.org.

Volunteer Divers

What is a Volunteer Diver?

Volunteer divers assist PPG Aquarium staff with in-tank maintenance of our warm and cold water exhibits, including the ocean tank, sea otters, sand tiger sharks, and more. Volunteer divers also participate in special event activities that further the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s mission.

Do I need previous SCUBA experience?

Yes. Divers must be at least 18 years old, hold an open water SCUBA certification from a recognized agency (PADI, NAUI, etc.).

How do I apply?

1. Read the full description of volunteer diver requirements under the "Full Volunteer Diver Requirements" tab.

2. Fill out and submit an application form. Send completed form to the PPG Aquarium staff at volunteerdiverinfo@pittsburghzoo.org, with "Volunteer Dive Program" in the e-mail subject line. If you qualify, a PPG Aquarium representative will contact you.

3). After all further paperwork is complete, you will complete an in-water dive evaluation and underwater diver orientation requirements.

How often will I dive?

Scheduling varies, but divers must participate at least once per month and attend regular volunteer dive meetings to stay active in the program.

Thank you for your interest. If you have additional questions, please email volunteerdiverinfo@pittsburghzoo.org.

A volunteer diver assists PPG Aquarium husbandry staff with in-tank maintenance of warm and cold water exhibits, primarily: Ocean, Flooded Forest, Sea Otter, Penguin, and Sand Tiger Shark exhibits. Volunteer divers also participate in special event activities that further the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s mission. Duties include cleaning acrylic panels, cleaning and maintenance of artificial rockwork and corals, assisting with in-tank maintenance, dive show demonstrations and keeping current on the exhibits and collection. In addition, a diver must learn to interpret the collections behavior, to keep accurate records, and maintain clean work areas. Occasionally, a diver may be requested to assist Aquarium staff in other areas or exhibits as needed.

While volunteering, safety must always be a top priority. The volunteer diver must be familiar with all safety procedures as specified by the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium reserves the right to remove any volunteer from the program if his or her actions do not represent the Aquarium in a safe, professional, courteous, and knowledgeable manner.

Application Process

Step 1: General Requirements

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Hold an Open Water SCUBA certification (or higher) by a recognized agency (PADI, NAUI, etc).
  • Divers must have completed at least 10 dives and have been diving, or completed a refresher course, within the last 6 months.
  • Supply all diving equipment for aquarium dives (except tanks and weights).
  • Background check letter or a Money order of $10 for the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium to conduct a PA background check (cost for out-of-state check varies). Click here for the PA background check website.
  • Negative TB test (proof of your results is required on your orientation day).
  • Two forms of proper ID:
    • Driver’s license or photo student ID
    • Birth Certificate
    • Social Security Card
    • Or Valid passport
    • Voided personal check is needed if you want direct deposit
    • Pay-stub from previous employer or proof of paid $52 EMS tax

Step 2: Dive Application Forms

Step 3:  Items that require annual renewal

  • Submit annual equipment maintenance receipts on BCDs & Regulators
  • Submit an annual copy of your valid DAN Insurance card.
  • Submit a copy of your current First Aid & CPR Training as needed, or obtain within 3 months of volunteering.
  • Complete AAUS medical re-evaluations as needed.

Step 4: Once your paperwork is complete

  • Submit paper work to the Dive Safety Officer & Volunteer Coordinator at volunteerdiverinfo@pittsburghzoo.org.
  • You will then be contacted to join an Orientation day.
  • Complete an in-water dive skills evaluation.

Step 5: Throughout your participation

  • Attend mandatory Volunteer Dive Meetings.
  • Remain up to date with PPG Aquarium policies.
  • While in the water and at the aquarium, all volunteer divers must present themselves accordingly. Appearances should be neat and conservative. At all times, remember that you are representing the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
  • All new divers will be signed up to the Volunteer Diver Yahoo Groups, where volunteers can co-ordinate with buddies, set dive schedules, and contribute to our online members' forum.

Volgistics Log-In

If you are a current volunteer diver, log-in here to schedule dives and communicate with the dive team.