Junior Zookeeper Leadership Program


Red River Zoo


NOTE: As of 6/9/21, we have ONE space left in the afternoon August session.

The Junior Zookeeper leadership program is a great opportunity for youth, ages 11-14 or who have completed the 5th grade (whichever comes first), to gain valuable skills and memorable experiences during the summer at the Red River Zoo.  The Junior Zookeeper Program focuses on instilling leadership, responsibility, and self-confidence in today’s youth, while also educating the participants about the Zoo’s mission of conservation and education. This program gives insight into many aspects of operating a modern zoo and highlights the various roles that are important to its smooth and efficient operation.  Participants will have the opportunities to assist in animal care, create enrichment, educate the public, inspire conservation action, learn more about our animals, and help clean, prepare and maintain the zoo each day. 

Join us and experience an amazing summer at the zoo!

What to expect:

Daily: Daily care of our farm animals, socializing our tortoise while educating the public about him, helping be leaders for our summer camp kiddos, talking to the public about the animals, and teaching the public using our biofacts, working on property protection and clean up in an effort to learn more about local conservation. 

Weekly: Shadowing and working with our keepers twice a week to learn more about the animals and how we care for them. Learning how to handle and present the animals once a week. 

Throughout the Summer: Guest speakers from all over the country who are experts in their field.


COVID-19 Precautions:

  • Youth will be instructed not to attend if they are feeling sick or if they have been recently exposed to someone with COVID-19
  • Camps will follow all group size guidelines issued by the CDC
  • Participants will be encouraged to wear masks when possible
  • Staff will wear masks at all times
  • Students will maintain a minimum of six-foot distance from other campers (unless they are in the same family)
  • Classes will take place outdoors whenever possible
  • If an activity takes place indoors, students will be seated 6 feet apart. All tables and chairs will be disinfected before and after use
  • All materials used for activities will be disinfected before and after use.
  •  Classes will include encounters with some animals but students will not be able to touch or feed the animal.
  • We will follow any guidelines that the state puts out and continue to be proactive with our precautions.


To register - pick the first date of the session(s) you'd like to sign up for.  There is no application process as there has been in previous years. 

The program is divided into five two-week sessions with morning (8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) or afternoon (1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.) programs each day, Monday through Friday. 

Junior Zookeepers sign up for either the morning programs OR the afternoon programs and can attend all five days each week.  (The morning and afternoon programs cover identical content each day, so it is not recommended that someone sign up for both.)

Note: If you click on a date for the session you want to sign up for and a time slot is not present that means that that session has filled to capacity.

Session 1 - June 7th through 18th AM or PM (AM and PM Sessions are Full)

   During this session, we will be learning more about the Red River Zoo as well as zoos around the world. Additionally, we will learn about what our animals eat, how we meet their nutritional needs and we will prepare some tasty treats for some of our amazing critters. 

Session 2 - June 21st through July 2nd AM or PM (AM and PM Sessions are Full)

   This session lines up with National Pollinators Week, so we will be learning all about local pollinators and how we can help protect their environment. We will also be learning all about careers in the zoo industry including some very surprising careers that you may not necessarily think of. 

Session 3 - July 12th through July 23rd AM or PM (AM and PM Sessions are Full)

   Training our animals in order to lower their overall stress levels is something our keepers do and is the focus of the first week of this session. We will learn all about how and why we train our animals and we will learn how we can be trainers ourselves. The second week of this session lines up with National Zookeeper Week so we will be practicing our zookeeping skills with week-long Olympic games.  

Session 4 - July 26th through August 6th AM or PM (AM and PM Sessions are Full)

  We are lucky enough to have an outstanding medical team here at the Red River Zoo and the first week of this session we will be learning all about the things they do for the zoo in addition to practicing some skills that might help you one day become a Vet or Vet Tech. The second week of this session we will be learning all about enrichment and the creative ways we keep our animal's brains active to promote natural behaviors.  

Session 5 - August 9th through August 20th AM or PM (AM Session is Full)

   Field exploration is a great way to learn about animals in their natural habitats. The first week of this session we will be practicing field exploration skills using specially designed field journals that will help you practice taking field notes, observing the animals for an ethogram, and using a dichotomous key to identify local plants we might be able to feed our animals. We will be ending this session by learning all about conservation efforts big and small, and how we as individuals can help. 


For example, John Smith could sign up for Sessions 1, 2, 3, and 4 for the AM programs and attend five days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Another example, Jill Smith could sign up for Sessions 1, 2, 4, and 5, for the PM programs and attend five days a week from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  (She's skipping session 3 because she has a family vacation scheduled during that time.)

Another example, John Smith could sign up for Sessions 1 and 2 for the AM programs, and Session 3, 4, and 5 for the PM programs.  


Program Fees:

$125 per 2-week session for Zoo Members + Junior Zookeeper T-Shirt

$150 per 2-week session for non-Zoo Members + Junior Zookeeper T-Shirt


Space IS limited to 25 participants per AM and PM period per 2-week session.