Photo: Andrew Swinbank/Shutterstock

10 Gifts That Support the World's Wildlife This Christmas

Wildlife Sustainability
by Ali Wunderman Dec 19, 2016

The hope inspired by the resilience of animals in the face of insurmountable odds is more necessary than ever at the end of a year that was extremely challenging for many people. The holiday season is upon us, and while we give to each other, we can also give back to the creatures that keep us engaged with the wild through direct charity and continued support of the species that need it most.

In lieu of a pack of wolves taking you in as their human ambassador, here is a list of gifts sure to delight any lover of wildlife this holiday season, with a quick reminder that any purchases on Amazon can be done through their charitable portal, Smile, and money will be donated to the cause of your choice (we recommend a local animal shelter).

1. Personal Bat House

Bats are a hugely misunderstood group of animals, often portrayed as scary blood suckers rather than the predominantly bug-eating, medically-fascinating creatures they are. Bat Houses are a fun project for families that want to support their local bat colonies by providing a nice place for them to live. Plus, purchasing this bat house directly supports the most prominent bat conservation group in the US.

2. Adopt an animal.

The World Wildlife Fund works tirelessly in support of the planet’s wildest creatures, and a symbolic adoption through them goes a long way. From wombats to walruses, the WWF has a huge list of favorite species to pick from. The adoption kit comes with a plush toy of the selected animal, a species card, adoption certificate, photo, and a gift bag, all fun reminders of the animals you’ve helped.

3. Learn to bird Audubon Field Guides.

The National Audubon Society is the world’s leading bird conservation organization, creating protective legislation for our winged friends among many other bird-forward programs. Birding is a great way to familiarize yourself with the local ecosystem, and makes for a great excuse to travel (birdwatching in Colombia, anyone?) The best way to start is to get out there with a great field guide, like the wide selection offered by Audubon.

4. Immersion: The Science and Mystery of Freshwater Mussels

If anything defines animal enthusiasts, it’s their constant curiosity about the natural world. This new book about freshwater mussels provides great insight into a group of species which aren’t regularly making the news, but clean our lakes and streams while acting as indicator species for water quality.

5. Bee House

Like the bat house, this bee house invites a crucial insect species into a safe place to live. Gardeners will love having pollinators so closeby, and nature-lovers will enjoy knowing they contributed to an effort in maintaining and building bee populations.

6. Responsible wildlife trips

Traveling with the intent of experiencing local wildlife can be a minefield for the animal-conscious traveler, what with drugged up tigers and abused elephants status quo for photo ops around the world. Fortunately plenty of tour companies exist that eschew handling unwitting wild creatures for the chance to witness them in their element, and Responsible Travel has been awarding said tour companies for their commitment to wildlife issues, making it easy to find the right groups with which to travel.

7. Zoo membership

Navigating the globe isn’t always possible — or necessary — to experience wild animals. Many local zoos are the foundation upon which wildlife conservation organizations thrive, and their education programs create empathy for animals in the next generations. Many zoos even got their start as rescue centers to handle illegally imported wildlife or discarded exotic pets. However, it’s worth doing research to ensure that zoo animals are well-cared for. The Oakland Zoo is a great model for all of the above, and membership with them offers discounted admission to over 125 reciprocal zoos and aquariums nationwide. A great gift for anyone who loves animals.

8. National Parks passport

There are 59 national parks in the United States, and getting a stamp from visiting each one is a fun bucket list item. A huge benefit of the establishment of these parks was that they became protected from the kind of human encroachment that destroys fragile wildlife ecosystems. Support continued maintenance of wild land by visiting the parks and respecting the animals that live there.

9. Endangered Species Chocolate

The hard part about these chocolates picking between the animal on the wrapper and the flavor inside. The easy part is eating delicious chocolate whose profits help support wildlife causes around the world. Check out the partner companies receiving 10% of the net profits.

10. The Invention of Nature

This book is a portal into nature disguised as a biography of Alexander von Humboldt, an influential naturalist who blended poetry with science. The story presented in this book will delight anyone even remotely passionate about the wild world, perhaps even igniting them to take action in their own backyard.

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