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Celebrating National Volunteer Week

Zoo Atlanta Volunteers lead by example and encourage others to give back to wildlife, conservation, and the community

National Volunteer Week highlights the time, talents, and passion of the group of extraordinary people who are vital to the mission and operations of Zoo Atlanta – and encourages others to follow their example. Observed around the U.S. from April 16 through April 23, 2023, the week celebrates the spirit of community service embodied by those with a desire to make the world a better place.

Zoo Atlanta Volunteers devote their hands and hearts to educational interpretation; special event execution; guest experience; administrative support; facilities and operations; animal care support; and more, with some standout examples who have served the Zoo for decades.

Three longtime Zoo Atlanta Docents – Jane Barron, Rae Furcha, and Polly Heyward – will receive the national President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2023. The honor is given to volunteers who contribute over 4,000 hours to an organization. With over 5,780 hours of service over more than 38 years, Barron is one of Zoo Atlanta’s longest-serving Volunteers and is most often found interpreting at the African elephant complex. Heyward is an icon of the Zoo’s Ford African Rain Forest, serving over 31 years and contributing more than 6,000 hours of service since a database of service hours was created in 2008. Furcha recorded the highest impact numbers of any adult Zoo Atlanta Volunteer in 2022, with personal educational interactions with more than 10,000 guests at The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Conservation Center.

Individuals ages 18 and up who are passionate about wildlife and conservation and are interested in a long-term relationship with Zoo Atlanta are encouraged to pursue the Zoo’s Education Program, Event Program, or Zoo Crew Program Volunteer tracks. Youth ages 14 to 17 are encouraged to learn more and apply for the Zoo’s Volunteen Program. Internships and a competitive Veterinary Preceptorship Program are also available for those interested in targeted career avenues in the zoological sciences.

Learn more about Zoo Atlanta Volunteer Program opportunities here on


Rachel Davis
Director of Communications
404.624.2812 – office

Gavin Johnson
Public Relations and Communications Specialist
404.624.5980 – office

About Zoo Atlanta
A proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the gold standard for animal care and welfare, Zoo Atlanta has a mission to save wildlife and their habitats through conservation, research, education, and engaging experiences. The Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals representing more than 200 species from around the world, many of them endangered or critically endangered. Highlights include giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; one of North America’s largest zoological populations of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Recent transformations include the African Savanna, featuring new and expanded habitats for African elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, bontebok, warthogs, meerkats and rhinos; Savanna Hall, a state-of-the-art special event destination in the newly restored historic former home of the Atlanta Cyclorama; and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Plaza. For more information, visit

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