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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 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!

Applications for the 2021 season are closed. Please contact  to be added to the list for next year. 

To participate in the JZK program, participants must:
- Be 12 to 18 years old on May 31, 2021
- 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)
        o Fee covers cost of materials, 2 uniform t-shirts, and educational opportunities
        o Please do not send this fee with your application
        o Financial Assistance may be available.  Please contact for more information.

Application Process: 
- Complete an application and submit it by Friday, April 2.
         o Returning JZKs should submit their applications by Friday, March 19.
- Teens selected for an interview will receive an invitation by April 14.
- Interviews for returning applicants will be held on Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11.
- Interviews for new applicants will be held on Saturday, May 1 and Sunday, May 2.
- Teens selected for the program will receive notification of acceptance by May 10.

Important Program Dates:
- The program will kick off with a party on Wednesday, May 19.
    o Program fee, TB tests, and scheduling calendars must be turned in on this date.
- Orientation is required for all JZKs.
    o Level 1 orientation will be from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26.
    o Level 2 orientation will be from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 27.
- The program begins on May 31 and ends on Aug. 15.
- JZKs will be recognized for their hard work at an Achievement Ceremony on Aug. 18.

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 1JZKs are required to commit to at least 2 half-day 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.

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  half-day shifts per week, including at least one weekend shift per month; shifts are available throughout the week.

Level 3
Level 3 JZKs are teens at least 17 years in age who participated in the JZK program the previous summer and have been selected by Zoo staff. 

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.