Misanthropes everywhere will agree that only animals deserve Christmas presents. If you do not have a four-legged friend on your list already, or just want to buy a small holiday treat for a big jungle cat, consider spreading some holiday cheer to the animals at the Milwaukee County Zoo.
Go to the zoo between now and December 31, and you can pluck an ornament from the Giving Tree, located in the front of the zoo. Each ornament has a gift suggestion for a different animal, tells you where you can purchase the item, and includes the gift’s price estimate. Though there are chances to splurge, many gifts cost less than $20, making it comparable to a Secret Santa with coworkers in literally one way.
What would an animal want for the holidays? Well, it depends. Would a leopard want a Nintendo 3DS? Don’t be stupid. That console is far too old. The leopard wants a Nintendo Switch.
The real suggestions on the Giving Tree are far more sensible, practical, and, frankly, delightful. They involve items that add depth to the animals’ lives and support their health and quality of life—”enrichment activities.” Some of the gifts play to the animals’ natural instincts, and, unlike a work Secret Santa, a few of the enrichment gifts add tactile and olfactory sensations to the animals’ environment.
Here is a short excerpt of what some of the animals would like for the holidays:
• Gorillas: Fifteen-gallon rubber tubs
• Orangutans: Spices (dill, cumin, curry, garlic powder, anise, etc.)
• Aquatic & Reptile: Pacific Produce gift cards for tasty treats
• Tiger cubs: Kids bubble bath
• Humboldt penguins: Lava lamps
• Ferrets: Marshall hanging ferret hammocks
Partial to a particular animal that you don’t see above? Check out the complete wishlist on the zoo’s website. (Before you peruse the list, be warned: You may feel compelled to buy a lifetime supply of Turkish Figs for the red panda.) Every animal, big and small, from the king of the jungle to the Madagascar hissing cockroach, has a wish on the list. You may be surprised at how many of the items you, a human being, want. The harbor seals want Amazon gift cards in any amount, and honestly, same.
If you snag an ornament and, for instance, buy the penguins their Kong belly flops lobster, you can deliver the gift to the zoo lobby. “Gifts can be dropped off at the Zoo’s Administration Office in the U.S. Bank Gathering Place. Let the gate attendant know you’re visiting on behalf of the ‘Giving Tree,'” says a Milwaukee County Zoo news release.
Our city’s zoo deserves some holiday love all year round. Even after the Giving Tree is taken down after December 31, the Milwaukee County Zoo has a number of active Amazon wish lists organized by exhibit. That means you have some time to save up to get the elephants a Bluetooth CD player and some apple pie seasoning. Kash the tiger loves the perfume Jaguar by Jaguar, and you can fund his eau de toilette habit and his identity crisis. The tigers also love not one, but three Jessica Simpson perfumes. Ensuring these tigers have all the celebrity fragrances they desire should be a priority in the municipal budget, and I wish I was kidding.
There are many reasons to give to the zoo. Maybe you, a fellow animal-loving misanthrope, see the zoo optimistically: a place where people experience and appreciate the natural world and all of its creatures. Maybe you grew up spending summer afternoons lolling around the peacocks, and the bear exhibits, and the harbor seals who are apparently addicted to online shopping. Maybe you remember the purple zoo keys or the seal strollers. Maybe you heard the lion roar during your last visit and felt terrified and amazed to share the earth with such fierceness. Maybe—hypothetically speaking, of course—you got chased by a goose on the picnic pavilion while you were eating lunch with your aunt (a truly immersive zoological experience).
Gift-giving may not be your deal. You may not like the zoo. If that is the case, you are too far gone and there is no help for you. For everyone else, treat yourself to a visit to the Milwaukee County Zoo this winter, support the creatures and the people who care for them, and give the jungle cats my regards.