Junior Zookeeper

An Entirely Different Way to Experience the Zoo

Great Plains Zoo's Junior Zookeeper summer program offers kids between the ages of 12 and 18 years old firsthand career experience in the world of zoology. This priceless opportunity for teens interested in animals helps them develop life skills and allows them to work directly with animals and kids in a fun and exciting environment.

Junior Zookeepers have been selected for the 2024 season. A big thank you to everyone who applied!


To participate in the JZK program, participants must:

  • Be 12 to 18 years old on June 1, 2024
  • Be willing to volunteer consistently throughout the summer for at least two half-day shifts per week
    • Available shifts are 8 am-noon and 1-4 pm
  • Attend orientation and any other required training
  • Provide evidence of a negative TB test
  • Provide their own lunch (if needed) and transportation to and from the Zoo
  • Pay a program fee of $85 for members and $100 for non-members (tax included)
    • The fee covers the cost of materials, 2 uniform t-shirts, and educational opportunities
    • Please do not send this fee with your application

Scholarships may be available if the program fee is a hardship for your family. Please contact Education@GPZoo.org for more information.

Note for Families:

  • The Junior Zookeeper program is a commitment for the entire summer. We know that many teens have vacations or other camp programs, but if your child has significant summer commitments, please contact Education@GPZoo.org to see if accommodations can be made.
  • The program is open to a limited number of participants.
  • All Junior Zookeepers are supervised by seasonal or full-time Zoo staff during their shifts.

Application Process

The online application for summer 2024 will be available beginning Feb. 23, 2024. Click here to apply.

  • Complete an application and submit it by Friday, April 5
    • Returning JZKs should submit their applications by Friday, March 15
  • Teens selected for an interview will receive an invitation
  • Interviews for returning applicants will be held on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7
  • Interviews for new applicants will be held on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29
  • Teens selected for the program will receive notification of acceptance by May 8

Important Dates

  • New JZK Applicant Information Night is 5 pm - 6:30 pm on March 13.
    • Learn more about the program and how your teen can participate.
  • The program will kick off on Wednesday, May 15
    • Program fee, TB tests, and scheduling calendars must be turned in on this date
  • Orientation is required for all JZKs
    • Levels White & Yellow will have orientation from 8 am – 4 pm on Tuesday, May 28
    • Levels Red & Purple will have orientation from 8 am – 5 pm on Wednesday, May 29
  • The program begins on June 2 and ends on August 11
  • JZKs will be recognized for their hard work at an Achievement Ceremony on August 16

ZooKeeper Levels

White Level

Kids who are 12 join the white level to assist with our summer ZooCamp program. This is an excellent introduction to familiarize them with the animals and build their skills in interacting with younger children. Junior Zookeepers don’t work directly or handle animals at this phase. It requires at least two half-day shifts per week, Monday–Friday.

Yellow Level

13-year-olds in the program are placed in the yellow level and engage with guests during the Bookworm story time program and discovery carts and act as zoo mascots. They also facilitate a positive experience between our guests and farm animals. Participants will start to develop skills interacting with the general public and gain knowledge to prepare for the red level. The commitment is two half-day shifts, Monday-Friday.

Red Level

Teens must be at least 14 years old and will help care for animals in the farm and present ambassador animals to zoo attendees during our daily Creature Features presentations. They will also gain experience in animal care and animal handling and develop basic presentation skills. This two half-day shifts per week commitment must include one weekend shift.

Purple Level

Any 17-year-old who participated in the program the previous summer and receives approval from zoo staff can enter the purple level. Responsibilities include daily care of the ambassador animal collection, handling advanced animals in the daily Creature Features presentations, and leading activities and games during ZooCamp.