Holiday Shopping is Wild at Zoos and Aquariums

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If the Mall is a Zoo, Why Not Go to the Zoo?

Elephant Art. Credit: Houston Zoo

Not only will people find gifts that will make their friends and family feel warm-and-fuzzy, they will also be supporting wildlife conservation.

This year, shoppers can go wild and do their holiday shopping the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos or aquariums. Gift shops are always stocked with fun toys, beautiful ornaments and unique environmentally-friendly products.

“Spend Black Friday with a black rhino or blacktip reef shark; shop at the zoo or aquarium,” said AZA Senior Vice President for Marketing, Jill Nicoll. “Not only will people find gifts that will make their friends and family feel warm-and-fuzzy, they will also be supporting wildlife conservation.”

“While others claw their way through crowds at the mall, people can have a peaceful shopping experience with the animals at a zoo or aquarium,” Nicoll added.

While shopping, families can get in a festive mood at the holiday celebrations of local AZA-accredited zoos or aquariums this season. Not only will they find special gifts, families will enjoy Zoo Lights or a meeting with Santa. Many zoos and aquariums are open 365 days a year, including Thanksgiving. Find a great zoo or aquarium nearby at

Unique, affordable holiday shopping ideas from local AZA-accredited zoos or aquariums:

  • Eco-friendly Products

Zoos and aquariums are going green and have the gifts to prove it. With everything from bird-friendly coffee to colorful totes, jewelry and stationery made from recycled materials, shoppers will be sure to find something for the person who seems to have everything!

  • Animal Creations

Forget ‘Made In China’- How about made by your favorite zoo or aquarium animal? Animal art painted by waddling penguins or majestic elephants is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face.

  • Holiday Cards and Ornaments

Send holiday greetings with cards featuring favorite animals. You can also decorate your home with hand-painted glass ornaments and even ones made from reindeer droppings!

  • Zoo or Aquarium Family Membership

Membership is the gift that keeps giving the whole year round! Membership will give an entire family one full year of free entry to the zoo or aquarium and lots of other great benefits such as magazine subscriptions, in-store discounts, and special events tickets.

  • Adopt–an–Animal

From aardvarks to zebras, give the gift of honorary parenthood to a loved one. With these gifts, the zoo or aquarium can buy treats, toys, and medical supplies for a special feathered, furry or scaly friend.

  • Name-an–Animal

Name a favorite zoo or aquarium resident after a friend or family member and contribute to the zoo or aquarium’s conservation efforts.

  • Toys and Games

At the gift shop, people will find toys for boys and girls, and for the young and young-at-heart. Whether loved ones are into computer games, puzzles, stuffed animals or sports, shoppers will be sure to find a fantastic gift.

  • Books

Learn about exotic animals in far-away lands or the nature in backyards. Whether buying for a new or avid reader, the zoo or aquarium gift shop is bound to have a book to love.

Photo credits:

Elephant art photo credit: Houston Zoo
Magical reindeer GEM ornaments photo credit: Miller Park Zoological Society

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. To learn more, visit


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Linda Cendes
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