Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth, Minnesota

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Giving Green
Written by Anya Russom

The Holidays are peculiar time of year. We are encouraged to spend time with our loved ones, invited to partake in holiday cheer, and expected to keep up (both physically and financially) with the ever burgeoning standards of the Hallowthankschristmukkah shopping season. Here at the zoo, we try to put our best foot forward and offer our friends, fans, and supporters the very best in animal-related gifting. That being said, it is also imperative to us that our merchandise falls in line with our mission as an AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited facility. Luckily, we have a plethora of products and services that are both unique and earth-friendly.

If you’ve been through our gift shop, you may have come upon our Fair Trade wall. On it, you’ll find products from all around the world that geographically relate to our animals. As far as adult-aimed holiday gifts go, the Fair Trade wall is your golden ticket. Harry, the Snow Leopard, encourages you to buy a beautiful Snow Leopard Trust hand bag, centerpiece, or ornament. The Snow Leopard Trust is a non-profit organization intent on preserving natural populations of snow leopards and people native to their habitat. Georgie, the two-toed sloth, and Jeeps, the kinkajou, implore you to check out our one-of-a-kind, hand-carved tagua nut animal figures from ef*ivory. These figurines are made from all natural tagua nuts which have been deemed as an “elephant friendly” ivory substitute. Our two lionesses, Lily and Malkia, told us to tell you to take a look at jewelry from the Leakey Collection, and the scarves, bandanas, and coin purses from Global Mamas. Both companies seek to help villages of women in various African countries.

If you’re looking for something a little more personal, be sure to ask about Critter Creations. Many of our animals enjoy creating artwork. It serves as enrichment for them and creates exceptional pieces of art for us to share with you. In addition, we are also able to periodically take nose and paw prints of some of our large carnivores. This is typically only possible when the animals are anesthetized for medical purposes, so these pieces are only made about once a year per animal. Each piece is matted, framed, or on canvas and comes with the name of the animal written on the artwork. Supplies are limited and going fast, so if you’ve got a particular critter in mind, be sure to ask!

Another great option for a Lake Superior Zoo-themed gift is our ADOPT program. If someone you know has a special attachment to one of our animals, why not give them the gift of a symbolic adoption? Our ADOPT packages start at just $35, and all proceeds go to the benefit of the intended animal. This can include food, treats, toys, and more! For a list of ADOPT benefits, visit

We’re not all about material things here at the zoo, and we have several gift options that focus more on the experience. For starters, we are currently holding a Holiday Membership Drive through the end of December. This is the perfect chance to give the gift of unlimited zoo visits to your friends and loved ones! In addition to the usual year-round perks, each holiday membership (new or renewed, gift or personal) comes with a holiday perk pack filled with extra incentives (for a full list, visit! Does your intended recipient already have a membership? That’s ok! You can piggyback your gift onto their existing membership term and keep the zoo love flowing for years to come!

You might be asking yourself, “How do the animals spend the Holidays?” Well, aside from their typical daily care (and maybe an extra treat thrown in here or there), we have the annual tradition of our Wish Tree. Located in the Tiger’s Paw Gift Shop, the tree is filled with ornaments detailing each animal’s holiday wish. Be it boomer balls for the barnyard, puzzles for the parrots, tires for the carnivores, or even just a gift card to Super One, Menard’s, or Petco, each gift ensures that your favorite animal will have a very happy holiday season. The Wish Tree is active through the end of the year, so be sure to stop in and grab your ornament soon!

Ok, ok. We know it’s not all about us, and if you find yourself looking towards the bigger picture this Holiday season, we encourage you to embrace the following animal-related charities. Whether it’s a symbolic animal adoption, a tribute donation, or a handmade gift, each of these organizations feature products and services that suit both adults and children. As previously mentioned, the Snow Leopard Trust is an organization for the preservation of snow leopards and surrounding human populations. In addition to their amazing handmade crafts, the organization also encourages its supporters to make financial donations to their cause. Money donated goes towards the safety and tracking of wild snow leopards around Kyrgyzstan, India, China, Pakistan, and Mongola. To learn more about their efforts, visit Another organization that hits close to home is Bat Conservation International. This non-profit targets bat populations around the world and tackles major issues like the spread of White Nose Syndrome. Donating to their cause not only benefits bats throughout Asia and Africa, but also the ones right in your back yard. Your support of their research not only helps save the lives of millions of bats, it ensures the survival of local ecosystems as well. Visit for more details. If you’re looking for a broader spectrum, visit This organization (the Center for Ecosystem Survival) strives to protect habitats for both land and water-dwelling creatures. By adopting a portion of protected land, you can save thousands of different animal species. And we’re not talking about symbolic land, here. They really do buy the space and ensure its protection. Two other highly recommended resources include the Defenders of Wildlife ( and the World Wildlife Fund, or WWF (

One last tidbit before we wrap this up (wait for the pun). Let’s talk about how to give these gifts sustainably. Store bought paper is bright, shiny and fun, but it’s also incredibly wasteful. Some types can’t even be recycled. Here are a few hints on how to minimize holiday trash: Wrap with comic strips or newspaper. This is a tried and true method for re-using discarded newspaper. It’s guaranteed recyclable and interesting to look at. If you have old calendars or wallpaper, you can do the same. Let’s give those retired wares one last hoorah. For smaller items, try making a box from origami paper, calendar paper, or construction paper. Box diagrams are typically simple, bright, fun, and re-usable. Lastly, instead of bows and ribbon, trim your presents with natural decoration. Pick pinecones, branches, berries, twigs, or anything else that you can tie together. We know how many of you and yours appreciate the great outdoors, and it really does add that personal touch.

So, when you’re decking the halls and spreading cheer this holiday season, be sure to keep us (and our affiliates) in mind. Your financial contributions to both our organization and the others listed will undoubtedly the lives of those whom the gift benefits as well as make an amazing, one-of-a-kind gift to the recipient. Each of these gifts has the opportunity to plant the seeds of knowledge within its recipient’s subconscious. Maybe next year, they’ll be the one buying land in the rainforest and adopting a snow leopard. And one last note: be sure to wrap that present with love. After all, zoo gifts always look better when given green.

posted by Keely Johnson at


Blogger Unknown said...

Interesting article, the part that caught my eye was about White Nose Syndrome and bat conservation. I work in humane bat removal in he Columbus, Ohio area and have a great deal of knowledge on how important bats are. I think its great the work that is being done to help with the conservation, if anyone would like a lot more information about bats other critters and conservation I have useful information on my website thanks again and good work.

January 7, 2014 at 2:16 PM  

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