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  • Junior Zookeeper Jay Pickthorn June 2017 1 Em

Junior Zookeeper

The Junior Zookeeper program is the Great Plains Zoo’s summer involvement program for teens aged 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!

Junior ZooKeeper participants for 2023 have been selected. If you would like to be notified when applications are available for the 2024 program, please email


To participate in the 2024 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 2 half-day shifts per week
    •   Available shifts are 8 a.m. – noon and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  • 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 for more information.

Notes 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 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.

The online application for summer 2024 will be available beginning February 2024. 

White Level

White Level JZKs are teens age 12 who assist with our summer ZooCamp program.  This opportunity gives participants a chance to learn more about animals while developing skills interacting with kids.  Please note: White Level JZKs will not be working directly with or handling animals.

White Level JZKs are required to commit to at least 2 half-day shifts per week; shifts are available Monday – Friday. 

Yellow Level
Yellow Level JZKs are teens age 13 who engage with our guests with Bookworms story time programs, Discovery Carts, and as Zoo mascots, as well as facilitating positive interactions between our guests and our animals at the farm.  This opportunity gives participants a chance to develop skills interacting with the general public and gain knowledge that will help prepare them for Red Level. Please note: Yellow Level JZKs will become familiar with the animals in the farm, but they will not be working directly with or handling animals.

Yellow Level JZKs are required to commit to at least 2 half-day shifts per week; shifts are available throughout the week. 

Red Level
Red Level JZKs are teens at least 14 years in age who help to care for the animals in the farm and present ambassador animals in daily Creature Features for the public.  This opportunity gives teens a chance to gain experience in animal care and animal handling, as well as learn basic presentation skills.

Red Level JZKs are required to commit to at least 2 half-day shifts per week, including at least one weekend shift per month; shifts are available throughout the week. 

Purple Level

Purple Level JZKs are teens age 17 who participated in the JZK program the previous summer and have been selected by Zoo staff.  These JZKs assist with the daily care of the ambassador animal collection, handle advanced animals in daily Creature Feature presentations, and lead activities and games for ZooCamp. 

Please note: For the safety and health of our animals, Purple Level JZKs must be fully vaccinated, with their second dose administered no later than May 18, and will be required to show proof of Covid vaccination.


For more information, please contact

  • Love this zoo! Great place to get a walk in and the animals are everywhere! The museum/indoor part is very educational too. Has a lot of shade for when it's hot out. Very clean. Friendly staff.

    Taylor F.
  • We love to visit the zoo. They have great outdoor exhibits and lots to do inside as well. Great for kids and adults.

    Robin A.
  • Lots of great exhibits and animals to see! Fun gift shop and learning center.

    Stephanie N.
  • The museum gives you a break from the sun on hot summer days and has a great selection of animal exhibits from around the world.  The zoo keeps growing and adding new animal habitats or improving existing ones.  Membership offers reciprocal benefits to other zoos around the country.

    Bill T.