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Atascadero Zoo Internship Essay

Our zoo was established in 1955 by Charles Paddock, a county park ranger who nursed wild animals back to health. His reputation for rehabilitating animals soon spread throughout the area and, by 1959, Mr. Paddock’s animal menagerie increased to over 125 wild birds and mammals. By 1963, the zoo was moved from the county animal shelter to its present site and became known as Atascadero Children’s Zoo. In 1979, the City of Atascadero was incorporated and the city took over management of the Zoo. The Zoo took on the official name of “The Charles Paddock Zoo” in 1980, in memory of its founder. Over the years, the Charles Paddock Zoo has grown and improved into a fully accredited Zoo, exhibiting over 100 animals on 5 park-like acres within beautiful Atascadero Lake Park.

The Zoo is currently renovating and upgrading the animal exhibits into more naturalistic habitats to assure the best care and well-being for our animals. Involved in several conservation and education programs, the Zoo has a commitment to wild animal propagation and management within the Zoo and in the wild, committed to be “Your Central Coast Conservation Center.” The Charles Paddock Zoo continues to be one of the best-valued, community supported, high quality, and family-oriented recreation destinations on the Central Coast.

Friends of the Charles Paddock Zoo

FRIENDS OF THE CHARLES PADDOCK ZOO (FCPZ) was formed in February 2012 as a dedicated partner of the Charles Paddock Zoo. FCPZ is committed to conservation, education and support of the Charles Paddock Zoo’s mission.

Our goals include:

  • Fundraising for Charles Paddock Zoo
  • Developing volunteerism
  • Promoting public participation and awareness
  • Enhancing the visitor experience

Friends of the Charles Paddock Zoo are focused on bringing awareness to the valuable cultural asset the Zoo is to our community. FCPZ is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit. Therefore, donations, contributions and sponsorships are tax deductible. Our Board of Directors is a 100% volunteer Board allowing us to dedicate funds directly to the Charles Paddock Zoo. Your support is greatly appreciated and will allow us to continue our mission.

Volunteers are the heart of our Zoo and have always played dominant roles throughout its history.

Inspired by Mr. Charles Paddock and his friends, our community has always answered the call of ongoing needs of the Zoo in the form of food supplies, construction materials, puppeteers, docents, gift shop volunteers, clerical assistance and financial support. These early benefactors understood the value and uniqueness of the Zoo for all Central Coast residents and visitors.

We are always looking for volunteers for our education programs, events, and office support. To become a volunteer please complete the form below or call 805-470-3182.


A Volunteer is any individual who donates time and/or services to facilitate Charles Paddock Zoo programs. Training requirements for each position below are considered minimums, and are subject to review and modification as necessary.

  • A General Volunteer is a volunteer working on various projects throughout the zoo and at zoo events. Specialized training outside of orientation is not usually required for General Volunteers. General Volunteers are aged 18 and up, supervised by the Education Dept.
  • An Education Volunteer is a volunteer who works alongside the Education Coordinator to sustain, promote, and progress the Education Department. To be an Education Volunteer you do not necessarily work within the public’s eye, you work primarily behind the scenes within the classroom and office building. An Education Volunteer can help do a number of things including but not limited to; curriculum, organization, filing and cleaning, set-up, research, planning, designing, and coordinating the display case. As an Education Volunteer you must be at least 18 years of age and you are encouraged but not required to get a live-scan, tetanus shot and take a TB test in case you would like to be involved in the public’s eye.
  • An Outreach Volunteer is a volunteer who works alongside the Education Coordinator and are involved in public programs of the zoo including but not limited to; school programs, Wildlife on Wheels, scout programs, preschool classes, Teen Zoo Crew, camps, tours and the Ask Me Cart. An Outreach Volunteer is required to attend personalized OV trainings, monthly ED Department meetings, and complete a minimum of 12 hours per quarter to maintain an active status. If, as an Outreach Volunteer, you would like to handle animal ambassadors, you will need to complete additional training and a minimum of two handling hours a month. As an Outreach Volunteer you are required to get a live-scan, a tetanus shot, a TB test and be at least 18 years of age, since you will be working with both the public and the animal ambassadors.
  • An Intern is a volunteer who provides support in a variety of departments. Interns are generally college students and are accepted on a case-by-case basis and supervised by the Animal Department.


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