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Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Shopping Made Easy at the Tiger's Paw Gift Shop

Written by Ashley Stalvig

From African fair-trade to locally handmade, the Tiger’s Paw Gift Shop in the Lake Superior Zoo seems to stock it all! The shelves are full of stuffed animals, racks are filled with books, and the walls are a collection of clothing, games, and unique items rarely found in Duluth stores.
Many of the items in the Tiger’s Paw Gift Shop not only look great, but carry a great message or story. Here are just a few examples:

The Snow Leopard Trust items are made by communities in Central Asia. By making and selling camel and sheep wool items (hats, coasters, napkins, toys) these communities have improved quality of life and increased income which leads to less snow leopard hunting and poaching.

ef*Ivory (elephant friendly ivory) carvings make wonderful gifts and protect not only elephants but rainforests as well. The nuts from tagua palm trees of South America are gently hand-harvested, then carved by people in the community and sold in place of ivory trinkets. The harvest brings value to the forests to help eliminate slash and burn tactics used by farmers, the sales increase community income, and the exchange of renewable nuts for ivory tusks keeps elephants safe from ivory hunters’ slaughter.

Two companies, Accents for Today and The Leakey Collection, offer fair-trade jewelry that is handmade from renewable resources. Beautifully carved stones from Zimbabwe’s Shona people make graceful necklaces that bring prosperity to an impoverished land. The fallen African hardwood and Zulu grasses used to make beads are beautifully crafted into unique jewelry that helps to employ women across Africa.

Every day in Ghana 270 tons of plastic waste is created. Most of this is from non-biodegradable bags containing purified water. Global Mamas is a fair trade organization that assists women-owned businesses in helping to relieve some of that waste from the trash. The plastic bags are reused to create goods (purses, wallets, bags). Proceeds go to the producers and programs that help them with their business development.

Looking for something more local? Check out the beautiful ceramic candles made by local artist Paula Maki. Paula has battled much adversity in her life and channeled her difficulties into her artistic abilities. Her soy candles, in hand-crafted holders, feature hand-carved animal images and can be reused time and time again.

Our animals create the most unique items in our store. If you’ve ever wondered how big a grizzly’s paw is, come and check out our “Critter Creations”- animal paw prints on canvas, or in the case of some of our more “slithery” residents- skin on canvas! Each comes with a photo of the animals whose personal print is on the canvas.

Green Science makes several at-home science projects for kids, all of which carry a green message. From using recycled materials to creating reusable energy, every child is faced with real science questions and earth friendly ways to solve them.

Don’t forget to check out the wish tree as well. Choose an animal tag off the tree that specifies a gift one of the animals at the zoo wants for the holidays (rawhides for lions, Kong toys for the fox, salmon for Berlin…), purchase the item(s), and bring them back to put under the tree. It’s a great family activity that can easily become a new tradition.

So, for your last minute holiday shopping, make sure you stop by the Tiger’s Paw Gift Shop whether you’re buying gifts for family and friends, unique stocking stuffers, sweet somethings for yourself or you’re treating a fuzzy critter!

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