Pittsburgh Zoo Teen Programs

Thursday, February 22

Zoo admission gates will open at 10 a.m. on Thursday, February 22.

Students in middle school and high school can become a part of the Zoo’s research team in the KidScience program, take in-depth classes through Zoo U., learn what it means to be a zookeeper through Keeper Interactions, or volunteer with the Zoo through the summer Zoo Teens program.

Teen Programs


KidScience is a year-long program designed to introduce middle school students to methods and principles related to conservation biology. KidScience students become part of the Zoo's research team, and get hands-on experience doing real animal behavior research. Through this program, students gain an understanding of research methods and skills, cooperation, teamwork, environmental stewardship, and are exposed to animal- and science-related careers. Activities include classroom lessons, data collection and analysis, behind-the-scenes tours, research projects, and animal encounters. KidScience activities also meet many of the Pennsylvania Department of Education Academic Standards as well as the National Science Education Standards.

Eligible Students
Students who will be in grades 6, 7, or 8 in October may apply. As KidScience is designed to be a two-year program, most students return the following year. KidScience will begin accepting applications for the 2018-2019 school year in the spring. Applicants will be interviewed in Summer 2018, and classes will begin in early October.

Classes are held every other Saturday throughout the school year (October through May), followed by a three week summer session. Classes are four hours long and can be attended in a morning session from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. or an afternoon session from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Annual tuition is $555 for Members and $695 for non-members. A limited number of scholarships are available to those who qualify.

Apply Today!
To apply, please download a KidScience application and a reference form. The application will need to be accompanied by a one-page essay (further instructions are available on the form). Two references are needed, so the reference form will needed to be printed and completed twice. Once completed, please mail these forms to:

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Attn: KidScience Coordinator
One Wild Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Applicants will be contacted in the summer, once all application materials are received, to set up a personal interview with the KidScience Coordinator. Sorry, online registration is not available for the KidScience program.

KidScience students also receive two Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium KidScience T-shirts, discounts at all Zoo restaurants and gift shops, 10 free Zoo passes for family and friends, and free admission during regular Zoo hours.

Printable Forms
Scholarship Application
KidScience Application
Reference Form (Print two, one for each reference.)

Contact Us:
For more information, please contact teens@pittsburghzoo.org or 412-365-2567.

Zoo U.

The Zoo U. program offers semester-based courses that allow high school students to explore new areas of science and conservation in a fun and exciting way. Students take an in-depth look at current research and topics in zoology, biology, ecology, and more. Classes are designed to be interactive and challenging for students in grades 9 to 12. Fall and Spring semester classes run two Saturdays per month for a total of six sessions. Summer classes run Monday-Friday for one week in August.  A limited number of need-based scholarships are available for those who qualify.  Zoo U. classes change each semester, so there is sure to be a course that interests you. Recent class topics include Marine Biology, Primatology, Introduction to Animal Behavior, Career Exploration, and more. Check back regularly to learn about new Zoo U. opportunities!

Spring 2018 Programs:

Invasive Species & Ecology

Invasive Species & Ecology will take an in-depth look at the major issues concerning introduced and invasive species in Pennsylvania and around the world. Students will examine the impact of invasive species on local ecology and biodiversity and the major reasons they have spread, as well as investigate invasive species from aquatic, island, and local terrestrial ecosystems. The class will include animal interactions, active discussion, class projects, and individual research projects. The course will conclude with a field trip to Lake Erie, to participate in an aquatic invasive species program with Pennsylvania Sea Grant. Space strictly limited.

9 am - 11 am session

1 pm - 3 pm session

Raging Raptors

Birds of prey have long been seen by humans as symbols of wisdom, strength, agility, and freedom. Now scientists look to them as powerful indicators of environmental change. Students will explore topics like migration, nesting, species adaptations, and field identification. This course will emphasize the physiology, ecology, and evolutionary history of raptors as well as their impact on human cultures. Students will encounter raptors of the Zoo’s Conservation Education Department as well as engage in hands-on conservation projects to directly benefit local wild raptors.

11 am - 1 pm session

3 pm - 5 pm session
More Information
Register Now

Independent Study

Whether you have a great idea for a research project or you want to conduct a study at the Zoo for a school or science fair project, the Independent Study option may be for you. Through Independent Study, you will work independently, but guidance from staff and keepers will help you complete the project.
Requirements: Any student undertaking independent study must check in with staff at least twice a month and make adequate progress prior to each meeting. A final paper/project must be produced by a reasonable deadline. 
Cost is free to those enrolled in other Zoo U. courses or $200 per semester for non-Zoo U. students.

Contact Us
For more information, please email teens@pittsburghzoo.org or call 412-365-2567.

Keeper Interactions

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium offers two opportunities for high school students to connect with keepers and aquarists and learn more about these exciting career fields, Keeper Conversations and Pizza with the Keepers. Please note that due to the large number of requests and keeper availability, we are not able to schedule individual job shadowing experiences. Parents are not permitted to attend either program with their children, but are welcome to tour the Zoo on their own during the program. Parents should expect to pay the gate rate or use their membership card for admission.

Keeper Conversations
Students in grades 9-12 who would like to shadow a zookeeper will tour animal areas as they chat with keepers and aquarists about the work they love. Space is limited for this exclusive opportunity. Keeper Conversations are held the first Tuesday of the month from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. October through April, excluding January. Register online for as many sessions as you'd like. Cost is $14 per session and includes admission and tours.

Dates and areas for the 2017-18 school year:

Tuesday, December 5 - Animal Care Center (vet hospital) & Education Dept. ambassador animals
Tuesday, February 6 - Forest Passage & African Savanna
Tuesday, March 6 - Kids Kingdom & Reptiles
Tuesday, April 3 - PPG Aquarium & Water's Edge

Register Now

Pizza with the Keepers 
Students in grades 9-12 are invited to join keepers, aquarists, and veterinary staff for an informal lunch to discuss animal-related career goals. Staff from Kids Kingdom, reptile and mammal departments, PPG Aquarium, and veterinary/animal care may be in attendance. Behind the scenes tours will take place after lunch. Space is limited for this popular program.  Cost is $24 and includes admission, lunch and tours.  Tour areas are different for each session, so if you attended in October, please consider joining us again. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018 - 12:30pm-2:30pm

Register Now

Contact Us
For questions about these programs, email us at learn@pittsburghzoo.orgRequests for individual job shadow experiences cannot be accommodated.

Zoo Teens

The Zoo Teens summer volunteer program is available for students ages 14-17. It is a great way to learn more about animals and zoo careers.  Zoo Teens will choose one day a week that's convenient for them.  This is an 8 week program, and Zoo Teens are expected to commit to at least 6 weeks.  Duties include small animal care and handling, staffing touch tables, assisting with Zoo Camp, and interacting with the public throughout the Zoo, but mainly in Kids Kingdom. 

Important Registration Information:
  • Registration for the 2018 summer Zoo Teens program will take place on Tuesday, January 2 only
  • Parents must call 412-365-2524 between the hours 7:30 am and 3:00 pm to enroll their child. 
  • No emails or calls on any other day will be accepted.  
This program is extremely popular and fills up every year.  No exceptions will be made for early/late calls. 

Contact Us
Contact the Volunteer Coordinator at 412-365-2524.