Zoo Keeper for a Day
Ever wonder what it is like to be a Zookeeper? Come find out at the Chattanooga Zoo!
Chattanooga Zoo's Keeper for a Day program is an interactive educational offering that gives teens and adults a firsthand look at working in a zoo. Come spend the day helping zookeepers with their daily routines of food preparation, cleaning, and animal care. Don’t miss your chance to create enrichment for a red panda, clean a snow leopard exhibit, or place food in the chimp yard! Whether you're considering a career in Zookeeping or have always wanted to spend some time with your favorite animal, this exclusive behind-the-scenes program is a once in a lifetime experience.
- Programs are offered the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month.
- $200 for Zoo members
- $250 for non-members
- Program includes a full day working side-by-side by the Zoo’s keeper staff, a Zookeeper for a day t-shirt, lunch at the Zoo’s Gombe Café, a souvenir photo with a Chattanooga Zoo photo frame, and a Zookeeper for a day debrief.
- Participants must be at least 12 years of age. Participants between the ages of 12 and 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Participants must be able to climb a flight of stairs, able to lift up to 25 pounds repeatedly and willing to work in all weather conditions.
- Registration is required at least two weeks in advance of program date and full payment must be made at time of registration.
- Due to the hands-on nature of this program, group size is limited to 2 participants per session.
- Programs involving the Zoo’s animal collection are subject to change; therefore, we cannot guarantee you will work with specific animals during the program.
- Africa (AM 1st Saturday every month)
- Potential Animals: Chimpanzee, Mangabey, African Crowned Crane, Spur-Thighed Tortoise
- Asia (PM 1st Saturday every month)
- Potential Animals: Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Langurs, Bali Mynah
- South America (AM 3rd Saturday every month)
- Potential Animals: Jaguars, Cotton Top Tamarins, Capybara, Kinkajou
- Deserts and Forests of the World
- Potential Animals: Fennec Fox, Komodo Dragon, Meerkat, Sloth
- 9:00am-Participant checks in at the Zoo gift shop.
- Participant will be greeted by Education staff and taken back to the Education Center to sign all necessary paperwork and receive their Zookeeper for a Day t-shirt.
- 9:30am- Participant will then be escorted to the appropriate animal exhibit areas for the morning portion of the program. The morning portion will be led by Education staff, but will have a keeper onsite.
- 12:00pm- Lunch will be held at the Gombe Café. Education staff will join participant for lunch.
- 1:00pm- After lunch, the participant will be escorted to the second animal exhibit area for the afternoon portion of the program.
- 2:30pm- Participants will return to the Education Center for the program’s debriefing and to receive their souvenir photo.
- Participants are welcome to tour the Zoo after their program.
All About Zoo Keeper for a Day
What should I wear?
During the program, you will be inside and outside. Please dress comfortably for the day and appropriately for the weather. Programs will take place rain or shine. A t-shirt and nametag will be provided for participants to wear during the program. Participants must wear both of these items during the program. Participants will have time to change before the start of the program. Participants can wear a long-sleeved shirt under the t-shirt if the outside temperature is cold.
Please wear khakis or jeans. Shorts are allowed during summer months. Wear comfortable shoes that are close-toed such as tennis shoes or work boots. Old shoes are best since you will get dirty. Flip-flops and sandals should not be worn, as they will prevent participants from entering the behind-the-scenes areas that are part of the program.
What do I need to bring?
Plan to bring a water bottle and a morning snack if you will get hungry before lunch. Lunch will be provided as part of the program. Participants with dietary restrictions are encouraged to let Chattanooga Zoo staff know in advance so appropriate arrangements can be made.
May I bring a camera?
To insure the safety of all involved, camera usage is prohibited during the Keeper for a Day program. However, at the end of the program you will receive a complimentary photo of your experience. Additional photos can be ordered for a fee at that time.
What should I know about working with the animals?
Although our animals are trained to work with their human caregivers, they are still wild animals and their behavior is unpredictable. It is important that you pay close attention to the guidance and instructions of Zoo staff. Never enter any animal area without direction from the keeper. Always wait for instructions and authorization from the keepers before approaching any of the animals while participating in training and feeding sessions. You must avoid touching the animals unless instructed to touch by the keepers. In addition, please note that participants who work around carnivores will be exposed to raw meat.
Are there any restrictions to participating?
Due to animal health regulations, participants that were out of the country 7 days prior to the program will not be able to participate. Participants are expected to follow all rules and instructions of Zoo staff. Anyone not following instructions may be asked to leave the program without refund. Please note that behind-the-scenes areas are not handicapped accessible.