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Like any other non-profit organization, the Gladys Porter Zoo greatly depends on its surrounding community for support. The Zoo offers several programs that are designed to involve the community on various levels. Contact the Education Department for more volunteer opportunity information at Educ@gpz.org or call (956) 548-9453. The following are just some of the programs the Gladys Porter Zoo offers:

The Docent Council
Docents are volunteers who work at the Zoo. Each year, approximately a dozen new volunteers join the docent council, with the total number of active docents averaging about 80 yearly. The docents first go through a rigorous eight week training course that covers such subjects as classification, taxonomy, zoo animal medicine, zoo geography and animal behavior. Upon completion of this training course, graduates are deemed qualified "ambassadors of the Zoo."

Docents contribute to the Zoo in different ways. They assist in the aviary and children's zoo, work in the information booth, conduct tours, give lectures and slide shows and help out with special events. Although docents are required to volunteer 50 hours of work at the Zoo throughout the year, the Gladys Porter Zoo docents each average over 100 hours of volunteer service.

Summer Teen Volunteer Program
This unique program is designed for students in grades 8 - 12 to volunteer at the Zoo to gain valuable work experience and learn responsibility. Teens work in the Children's Zoo, the Education Department, the Australian building, the clinic and the Herpetarium. Teens must first apply to the program, and then approximately 30 teens are accepted to work each summer.