Volunteer Opportunities

Personal Assistant to the President  |   Gorilla Produce Assistant  |  Gorilla Gardener  |  Web Assistant


Job Overview

The Gorilla Foundation is looking for a full time Personal Assistant for our co-founder, President and Director of Research — Dr. Penny Patterson — Koko’s mentor, and lives in Redwood City, CA.  

This position is critical to the accurate transmission of the data and lessons of Project Koko throughout the world!


1. Help design, prepare and shop for innovative and healthy meals for gorillas Koko and Ndume, as well as for Dr. Patterson.

2. Help organize physical and electronic files, including multimedia research materials and artifacts associated with Project Koko, both at the Founder’s home, and at local storage facilities — utilizing our database, with support from our Director of Technology.

3. Help with household/work-related errands, including shopping, laundry, organization, upkeep, light cleaning, and assembly of goods for transport to the Gorilla Foundation.

4. Schedule (using Google Calendars and Docs/Spreadsheets) and help manage the Founder’s personal and work schedule.

5. Assist with email and physical mail correspondences and updating/tracking to-do lists.

6. Perform informal research on a variety of topics, from gorilla nutrition to communication to conservation to fundraising, via the internet and personal networking.

7. Find and manage local vendors to help with organization, moving supplies/files and cleaning.

8.  Help transcribe Dr. Patterson's written gorilla research/care notes into The Gorilla Foundation new database, which automatically tracks linguistic and behavioral trends, frequencies and interrelationships, to better understand the scope of gorilla language use and cognitive capabilities.


1. At least 3 years experience working as a personal assistant

2. At least 5 years experience in the work force preferred

3. College degree preferred

4. Drivers license with clean driving record; must own a reliable vehicle

5. Able to lift 50 lbs or more

6. Open availability— able to accommodate a flexible on-call schedule

7. High energy

8. Ability to take direction well, and to make creative suggestions

9. Strong organizational skills (files, objects, people and projects)

10. Flexible and adaptable managing a range of different tasks

11. Can-do / positive attitude and ability to handle difficult situations with ease and a calm demeanor — with good sense of humor

12. Ability to maintain discretion (confidentiality agreement required)

13. Experienced and talented in the kitchen (love to cook and others love your cooking)

14. Eagerness to learn by asking questions ...


(Note: this position does NOT involve direct contact with gorillas.) 

How to Apply

Please send a letter of interest, resume, 3 professional references and a brief essay on "what Koko means to you" to:

[email protected]


Produce Assistant for Ndume

Meals are always exciting events throughout a gorilla's day, and Ndume is no exception. We are always interested in hearing from potential volunteers in the event that we have an open position.


• Experience cooking and preparing meals
• Love of cooking
• Knowledgeable of vegetables and fruits
• Can sort, wash, and cook produce thoroughly and efficiently
• Love gorillas, dogs, and cats
• Are happy to put up with the heat of summer and the cold and rain of winter


• Minimum commitment of one year
• Complete an initial volunteer period in the Business Office
• Are available one day a week from 8:30am to 12:30pm
• Provide a copy of a negative TB test annually
• Provide a copy of a flu shot report/receipt annually
• Must be at least 18 years old

Because gorillas are very sensitive to any change in their environment, especially new people, we ask that volunteers make a long-term commitment. If you are willing to commit to a regular volunteer schedule, we would be happy to keep your application on file in the event that we have an open position.

To find out more about the position and how to apply, tell us a little about yourself and your interest in the position in an email to [email protected].

All attachments MUST be in either Word or PDF format.

Please note that we do NOT have any volunteer opportunities that involve direct contact with the gorillas.


Gardener for Gorilla Grounds

The gorilla foundation needs help with grounds clearing, pruning, and planting (of gorilla "browse") by someone with professional gardening experience.

For more information, please email: [email protected]


Web Development Assistant for Koko.org

We're looking for someone who can help us maintain the quality assurance of our new website and explore some new directions via special projects.

Some or all of the following skills would be useful:

1) php/mysql
2) javascript
3) drupal dms
4) video editing
5) FileMaker Pro database (vsn 11 or higher) 

If you're a good communicator, can work effectively remotely, and can devote at least a few hours per week on a regular basis, please email a cover letter and resume (with links to your previous web work) to: [email protected]


Gorilla Media (Photo/Video Review) Volunteer for Koko.org

We're looking for a few good people to help us review thousands of photos and videos, catalog and rate them (via our database) and thereby help us quickly search for the right photo/video for the right purpose:  education, research, conservation, care, fundraising, etc.

Necessary Qualifications:

 Love of media featuring gorillas Koko, Michael, Ndume and others
•  Attention to detail — able to discern the overall theme and specific highlights of photos/videos

Desirable Qualifications:

Sign language interpretation and transcription
• Photo and/or video editing

Time Commitment::

From 2 consecutive hours per week to "the sky's the limit"


 The Gorilla Foundation's Business Office in Redwood City, CA

If you're interested in helping with this important project, please email a cover letter, resume (with references) and a 1-paragraph essay on: What Koko Means to Me", to: [email protected]


Thank you for offering to volunteer at The Gorilla Foundation!


Contact Us



The Gorilla Foundation / Koko.org
1733 Woodside Rd., Suite 330
Redwood City, CA, 94061
1-800-ME-GO-APE (634-6273)

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Why become a member?

Our mission is to learn about gorillas by communicating with them, and apply our knowledge to advance great ape conservation, education, care and empathy.

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