Oakland Zoo’s Docent Volunteer Program Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — Oakland Zoo’s Docent Council will celebrate their 40th Anniversary. The celebration and afternoon tea will take place in the Snow Building, located at Oakland Zoo. “It is great to have this opportunity to recognize the long-standing commitment and dedication of our Docents who play an important role in fulfilling the Zoo’s mission,” said Lisa O’Dwyer, Volunteer Programs Manager at Oakland Zoo. This Docent volunteer program was established in 1973 and the first Docent program began in 1974. The word “docent” is derived from the Latin language and means “to teach.”

Currently, there are eighty-six active Docent volunteers that are the equivalent to five full-time employees, dedicating 10,508 volunteer hours. The volunteer program saves Oakland Zoo more than $136,000 per year.

Docents play an essential role at Oakland Zoo through their interactions with guests. They offer guided tours and set up information stations about animals and conservation issues – aimed at inspiring curiosity and discovery in adults and children. In 2013, the volunteers that make up the “Animal Encounters Team” provided ninety-eight live animal presentations in the Zoo’s Clorox Wildlife Theater, serving 16,951 guests. Becoming a Docent is a commitment and requires extensive course study covering taxonomy, interpretation, zoo history, animal habitats and adaptations, conservation, customer service, child development, and safety. Docents are required to take a fifteen week training program that helps prepare volunteers to be a frontline of communication with the public.

Over the past forty years, these volunteers helped launch the first ZooMobile outreach program (began in 1974) – which brings live animals to classrooms, senior centers, libraries, and birthday parties. In the early 1990’s, they erected a membership booth at the main entrance of the Zoo and brought in more than 1,000 memberships during the first year of operation. Two weekends a month, docents also run a program called “ZooKids,” which are animal related activities for children ages four and five. The Associate on Zoo and Aquarium Docents and Volunteers (AZADV) recognizes the Oakland Zoo Docent Program as being in the “top ten” for oldest docent programs in the United States.

For more information about Oakland Zoo’s Docent program, please go to http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Docents.php or contact Lisa O’Dwyer, Volunteer Programs Manager at (510) 632-9525, ext 141.

ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO: The Bay Area’s award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid’s activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at http://www.oaklandzoo.org.


Nicky Mora, Senior Manager, Public Relations


Lisa O’Dwyer, Volunteer Programs Manager

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