Photo Information

A black-handed spider monkey hangs from his enclosure at the Honolulu Zoo, Feb. 10, 2014. The monkeys got their name from their long limbs and gripping tails. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Suzanna Knotts)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Suzanna Lapi

Honolulu Zoo: Wild about giving back

28 Feb 2014 | Lance Cpl. Suzanna Knotts Marine Corps Base Hawaii

The Honolulu Zoo, located between the slopes of Diamond Head and Waikiki on Kapahulu Avenue in Queen Kapiolani Park, is dedicated to conserving wildlife and offering a valuable experience for the community to enjoy.

Animal lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike can become involved in its mission by volunteering to ensure the zoo remains an important place for people and wildlife to interact.

The 42-acre zoo, open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., features 905 different animals from the tropics and a variety of African animals, including lions, zebras and giraffes. There are multiple endangered species living at the zoo, like Komodo dragons, Sumatran tigers and Mariana fruit doves.

Barbara Thacker, the director of volunteers for the Honolulu Zoo, explained there are many ways to give back since the zoo volunteers support in virtually every department. Volunteers are also needed to help with their education programs and Honolulu Zoo Society special events.

“We have approximately 225 volunteers,” Thacker said. “The zoo needs the help and we have a structured program in place to make volunteers feel welcomed, supported and appreciated.”

The most popular opportunities are zoo guides, animal keeper assistants, and special events support, which includes their annual Earth Day celebration in April, military appreciation day in May, wildest show summer concerts, and annual Easter celebration.

Thacker said the zoo has been very beneficial to the community.

“The Honolulu Zoo offers our community a lush and fun environment to learn about our natural world and the many diverse animals with whom we share this planet,” Thacker said. “Where else are Hawaii residents going to be able to enjoy the majesty of some of the world’s most magnificent animals?”

Thacker explained that it may be difficult to accommodate individual schedules that change weekly, but opportunities abound for groups to set up special one-day weekend projects.

“Weekend community service projects are usually landscape or maintenance based,” Thacker said. “A sampling of past projects includes erecting a climbing structure for chimps, clearing debris from exhibits, constructing rain-shelters for birds and building and maintaining gardens.”

Thacker said service members have been most helpful to the zoo when they volunteer as part of the one-day community service groups.

“The Junior Enlisted Organization from the Navy has been coming to the zoo on the first Saturday of the month for the last 10 years,” Thacker said.

Those interested can visit the zoo during “walk-in-Wednesday,” which is a weekly open house for anyone who wants to become a volunteer.

“Volunteering at the zoo is important because you have the chance to help the zoo meet and exceed its ever-rising standards of animal care, education programs, facilities maintenance and visitor services,”
Thacker said.

Information on the volunteer process and applications can be found at the website,, or by calling 971-7171.

Marine Corps Base Hawaii