Winter Green

New in the Zoo
December 1, 2019
Zoo Update with Denise Verret
December 1, 2019

Sustainable gifts increase the impact of your generosity. Photo by Tad Motoyama

With winter holiday gift lists, get-togethers, and menu plans taking shape, sustainable choices can make your holidays greener!


Rhinoceros hornbills depend on forest habitat. Photo by Mike Elliott

Habitat loss is one of the most pressing conservation concerns around the globe, and plantation farming of crops such as coffee, cacao, and oil palms in tropical regions is a major contributing factor. A “Fair Trade” logo on coffee, chocolate, or other products means that a member of Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) has certified the manufacturer. Certification means that the producer adheres to Fair Trade principles, which include equitable labor practices and sustainable farming methods. (For more information visit the Fair Trade Foundation website). Palm oil is a trickier topic.


Fair Trade-certified coffee and chocolate are sustainably grown and responsibly produced.

Palm oil is derived from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm (Elaeis guineensis). You probably use or consume some palm oil every day—it is a component of everything from cosmetics to cookies. It became even more prevalent after the government restricted the amount of trans fats that are allowed in processed foods. Palm oil is trans-fat-free and, in its solid form, has become a cheaper substitute for cocoa fat in chocolate and butter in baked goods. The problem is, in order to establish more oil palm plantations to meet burgeoning demand, more and more tropical forests are falling under the plow. Indonesia produces much of the world’s palm oil, and its forests—home to a staggering number of endangered species—are vanishing almost as fast as demand for the oil grows.

Winter Green

Oil palms thrive in tropical climates—which also are home to many endangered species. Photo © CEphoto, Uwe Aranas, CC BY-SA 3.0


Palm oil products are derived from both the fleshy coating around the palm oil seed and the kernel itself. Photo courtesy of the Mary Gillham Archive Project


Harpy eagle habitat in South America is under pressure from ranches and plantations. Photo by Lori Conley

Terrestrial habitat loss is only part of the sustainable-living challenge. Our oceans are under immense pressure as well. Many food fish populations are exhausted, and aquaculture (particularly salmon and shrimp) can do more harm than good because it destroys habitat while producing inexpensive “farmed” seafood. Another significant problem is “by-catch,” or the non-food animals that are incidentally killed as part of the catch. When selecting seafood for your table or at a restaurant, show your green taste by making a sustainable choice. To learn more, visit the Seafood Watch website. You can also download an easy-to-use Seafood Watch app. It’s not always easy being green, but it gets easier when we change our habits. Dolphin-safe tuna is commonplace because of consumer demand—and consumers can exert similar pressure to protect other species of concern such as sharks and sea turtles.


Rays are relatives of sharks. Photo by Jamie Pham

When you shop for coffee, chocolate, or packaged foods, take a moment to look at the label. Is there a Fair Trade option? Is palm oil listed in the ingredients? (For a surprisingly long list of the many different names for palm oil and palm oil derivatives, click here.) At restaurants, take a moment to ask if the seafood is farmed or wild-caught. Your server or even the chef may not know, but if enough people start asking, restaurateurs will take this into consideration when they purchase ingredients—as many have with organic foods. It sometimes takes a little effort or costs a bit more to make the “green” choice, but that extra cost an investment in the future of our planet—a priceless gift!


Sustainable choices are a gift to our planet and all the beings who share it. Photo by Matt Carey

But if you are looking for a more immediate gift this holiday season, skip the manic malls, impacted parking lots, and trendy presents that will be obsolete by Memorial Day. GLAZA has perfect gift solutions for everyone on your holiday list. Whether you are pinching pennies or going for the gusto, our green gifts offer experiences that will last a life-time for someone you love. And it’s all just a mouse click away!

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Holiday fun abounds at the L.A. Zoo. Photo by Jamie Pham

A membership to the Zoo or one of the Zoo’s donor clubs will guarantee a year of memorable experiences. Gift memberships are available at all levels. They're perfect presents for the animal lovers on your list and are even more meaningful because they also benefit the animals of the L.A. Zoo, who depend on your support. If you’d like to buy a gift membership, click here to sign up online or call the Membership office at 323/644-9115 Monday through Friday or the Membership booth at 323/644-4747, seven days a week. En Español: 323/644-4244 Monday through Friday. For information about Safari Society, the GLAZA’s premier donor club, click here.


The Zoorific Picnic is one of many excusive member events that take place throughout the year. Photo by Jamie Pham

When thinking of the people on your gift list, consider ADOPT-tion! Your gift recipients can symbolically become the guardian of their favorite L.A. Zoo animals through the Animals Depend On People, Too program. Priced at $65, the ADOPT package includes a personalized ADOPT certificate, a photo-factsheet of your adopted animal, a window decal, and your choice of an eight-inch reindeer or Asian elephant plush animal. All our resident animals are available for ADOPT-ion, and all gifts are fully tax-deductible! Proceeds support the 40-plus international conservation projects in which the Zoo participates, helping to save rare and endangered species. For more information, click here.


Photo by Jamie Pham

Support your Zoo’s mission of connecting people with wildlife by making a donation to our annual fund by December 31. When you contribute $250 or more, you and one guest will be invited to join us for a special viewing at the Zoo. Your VIP invitation will enable you to enter the Zoo before regular hours to enjoy an exclusive keeper talk, animal viewing, and continental breakfast.

The LAIR offers an opportunity for an upscale gift! You can honor that ssspecial sssomeone in your life with a Rep-Tile. These uniquely shaped tiles are installed in a serpentine wall pattern on the exterior of this state-of-the-art facility. By purchasing a Rep-Tile (priced at $1,000 and $500), you’ll not only leave a lasting mark, you’ll tip the scales in support of the Zoo’s mission to preserve wildlife and wild places. For more information or to order your Rep-Tile over the telephone, please contact the Development division at 323/644-6097 or click here.


This season, come to the Zoo for a wildly unique holiday gift and sustainability fair, produced in partnership with Odd Market. Winter Wild Weekends feature hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind items available for purchase, eco workshops, live music, flurries of snow twice daily, treats for select animals, and, of course, photos with Santa (for an additional fee). All activities except Santa photos are free for Zoo members and with paid admission. Time spent with family and friends is the greatest holiday gift of all. Make the most of it with this delightful daytime outing that’s less about consumerism and more about connecting—with each other, with local crafters, and with nature and wildlife.


Odd Market goods. Photo by Jamie Pham

The International Marketplace also offers a fantastic assortment of “green” gifts. Take advantage of your 20-percent member discount during Winter Wild Weekends and browse a range of sustainably produced items—from bamboo fiber T-shirts to biodegradable toys, vibrant home furnishings, and jewelry crafted from reclaimed or recycled materials.


You’ll find a variety of delightful handmade gift items at the International Marketplace shops. Photo by Jamie Pham

For more ideas, see our Holiday Gift Guide 2019—and don’t forget to make your year-end charitable gift by December 31 for tax deduction purposes!