Zinc belongs to the transition metal family. Transition metals all share certain characteristics, notably the ability to conduct electricity and heat. Transition metals are also ductile, meaning one can stretch them into wire.
Zinc's chemical symbol is Zn, and its atomic number is 30. As a transition metal, zinc's valence electrons exist in multiple shells. Valence electrons are those electrons an atom uses to form chemical bonds. This means that zinc can exist in multiple oxidation states, allowing it to bond with a variety of atoms. Proteins with zinc can therefore quickly change configuration by altering the chemical bonds between different amino acids, making zinc an essential element in many enzymes.