Junior Zookeeper Program

The Junior ZooKeeper program is the Great Plains Zoo’s summer involvement program for teens age 12-18. It provides teens who are interested in animals a chance to develop life skills and an opportunity to work with animals and kids in a fun and exciting environment!

To participate in the JZK program, participants must:

  • Be 12 to 18 years old on June 1, 2017
  • Be willing to volunteer consistently throughout the summer for at least 2 shifts per week
  • Attend orientation and any other required training
  • Provide evidence of a negative TB test
  • Provide their own lunch and transportation to and from the Zoo
  • Pay a program fee of $85 for members and $100 for non-members (tax included)
     - Fee covers cost of materials, 2 uniform t-shirts, and educational opportunities
     - Please do not send this fee with your application

Application Process:

  • Click here to complete the online application and submit it by Friday, April 7.
    **Returning JZKs should submit their online applications by Friday, March 17.
  • Teens selected for an interview will receive an invitation by April 17.
  • Interviews will be held throughout the day on Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30.
  • Teens selected for the program will receive notification of acceptance the week of May 8.

Important Program Dates:

  • The program will kick off with a party on Wednesday, May 24.
    **Program fee, TB tests, and scheduling calendars must be turned in on this date.
  • Orientation is required for all JZKs.
    **Level 1 orientation will be from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Monday, June 5
    **Level 2 orientation will be from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6
  • The program begins on June 5 and ends on Aug. 13.
  • JZKs will be recognized for their hard work at an Achievement Ceremony on Aug. 15

Click here to begin the online Junior Zookeeper application.


Junior Zookeeper Program Levels

Level 1

Level 1 JZKs are teens age 12 and 13 who get to experience the education side of the Zoo! This opportunity gives kids a chance to develop skills interacting with kids and the general public, as well as learning to share animal information with others. Level 1 JZKs are required to commit to at least 2 shifts per week; shifts are available Monday – Friday.
Please note: With the exception of select continuing education opportunities, Level 1 JZKs will not be working directly with or handling animals.

Opportunities for Level 1 JZKs include:

  • Classroom Assistant for ZooCamp - Discover all that goes into leading a Zoo education program
  • Discovery Carts - Share biofacts and animal information with guests of all ages on Zoo grounds
  • Zoo Mascot  - Entertain our visitors by dressing up in one of the Zoo’s two mascot costumes

Level 2

Level 2 JZKs are teens at least 14 years in age who will gain experience in the animal care side of the Zoo. These teens will get to participate in animal care as well as basic animal handling and presentations. Level 2 JZKs are required to commit to at least 2 shifts per week, including at least one weekend shift per month; shifts are available throughout the week. 

Opportunities for Level 2 JZKs include:

  • Hy-Vee Face-to-Face Farm - Help care for the rare breeds of livestock that call the Zoo home
  • Creature Features -  Handle education animals in daily presentations for the public

Please note: Levels are based on participant age. No exceptions will be made.

Click here for a printable Junior Zookeeper information packet. For more information, call 605.367.8313, ext. 233, or email us at education@gpzoo.org.