Conservation-Savvy Gift Shop Purchases

No trip to the Zoo is complete without visiting the Gift Shop and picking out a souvenir to take home. Whether you’re more into something you can wear, such as a t-shirt, jacket or hat, something you can carry out and cuddle on the way home, like a plush of your favorite animal, or something unique like artwork and trinkets, the Virginia Zoo Gift Shop has a souvenir to fill every niche. But did you know that your gift shop purchase can also make your conscious feel good, as you’re helping the Zoo support its conservation organizations, programs and projects? Consider adding these conservation-focused items to your (reusable!) shopping bag on your next visit.

Also, don’t be alarmed when the Gift Shop associate asks you if you’d like to round up your purchase. By rounding up your purchase, you’ll be donating to the Zoo’s Conservation and Research Fund, which supports dozens of conservation organizations, programs and projects that help protect animals and their native habitats. Every penny counts and can help make change for wildlife.

Do you want to show off your love of animals with some cool clothing? Look no further than our endangered species t-shirts, available for $10 each at the Gift Shop counter. Proceeds from the sale of these shirts benefit the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project and Philippine Hornbills Conservation Program. Quantities are limited, so be sure to grab one on your next visit.

The Gift Shop also offers plenty of unique items to take home that also have a positive impact on the environment. Ivory from elephant tusks is one of the world’s most exploited materials and it is often used to make one-of-a-kind art pieces. You can actually help save elephants from being poached for ivory by instead purchasing artwork made from sustainably harvested Tagua nuts, which look remarkably like ivory. These little figurines start at $16.99, are hand-carved and help keep ivory out of the illegal wildlife trade.

Some of our most popular souvenirs and gifts are the handmade flip flop animals and sculptures from Ocean Sole. Ocean Sole cleans beaches in Kenya and recycles more than 500,000 flip flops annually by turning them into artwork. Pick from different types of jewelry, keychains, small animal artwork and large animal artwork and take home your very own one-of-a-kind piece. Proceeds from flip flop sculpture sales benefit Ocean Sole and its partners.

If you’re one of the millions of people who drink coffee everyday, then you’ll enjoy taking home some Red Ape coffee. This organic ground coffee is cinnamon flavored and 5 percent of proceeds from each bag sold aid in the protection of orangutans and their natural palm forest habitats. You can also purchase ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks from Red Ape in the Zoo’s Gift Shop. These delicious and conservation-savvy products start at $8.95.

Nothing says “I want to save the planet” like a reusable bottle. Starting at $5.95, the Zoo’s selection of reusable bottles are perfect for both kids and adults, and insulated growlers for beer and wine are also in stock. These items help keep unnecessary one-time-use plastics (that do not decompose easily) out of landfills and ecosystems.

Don’t forget to also purchase a reusable metal straw for $3.95 so the next time you go out for dinner or drinks with a friend, you can use your reusable straw and ditch the plastic straw to help protect sea turtles from ingesting harmful plastics.

We’re always adding new items in the Gift Shop, so check back often for the latest souvenirs and gifts that contribute to conservation and brighten your day. Don’t forget to recycle or reuse the brown paper bag you may receive to haul your goodies home. It’s made from 100 percentrecycled materials and is perfect for re-gifting!