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  • Writer's pictureJen

Are you buying the best products for your zoo shop?

Zoo gift shops transcend the typical retail experience. While conventional stores strive to evoke feelings of comfort and convenience, zoo shops immerse customers in an atmosphere of wilderness and excitement. These dynamic shopping environments are not mere extensions of the zoo; they are vibrant continuations of a day filled with exploration, offering a stimulating conclusion to the zoo experience.

Far more than a routine shopping opportunity, the zoo gift shop is an indispensable component of the overall adventure. Positioned as the final, thrilling stop after a day of animal encounters and educational exploration, it ensures visitors leave the park with a lasting sense of happiness and satisfaction.

As the gateway to the end of the day's journey, the magical gift shop sparks anticipation in every visitor. The joy of discovering a little memento to commemorate their trip transforms the visit's conclusion into a fun and memorable experience. For both young and old, perusing the shelves in search of something special becomes the perfect finale to a day filled with cherished moments at the zoo: it ensures the memorable trip is rounded off on a positive note.

The magic of zoo shops

Zoo gift shop shelves and creative displays burst with colour, showcasing a range of products that you won't find on the high street. Thanks to their focus on wildlife and nature, their unique product selections, and the fact that by buying from the shop, you are likely supporting a wildlife conservation cause, they are fantastic shops to buy gifts from. Zoo shops also commonly have a strict sustainability policy in line with the zoo's values, so in these cases, you can be sure the products were sourced responsibly from eco-friendly suppliers.

What sets zoo shops apart when it comes to retail buying?

Have you ever visited a gift shop that was part of a bigger experience, and felt deflated? If shelves are bulging with brands you have seen a thousand times before, and which aren't completely relevant to the experience you have just enjoyed, the day might end with a note of disappointment - especially if you had hoped to find something special to take away to remember your day by. Customers expect to be wowed by zoo gift shops. To achieve that sense of awe, the product selection is vital.

Retail buyers for zoo gift shops have entirely different considerations to high street shop buyers. It is their job to curate a vibrant retail environment designed specifically to send visitors home on a high and help them find the perfect products they can remember their zoo visit by. Customers in zoo gift shops often really want to buy something; they plan a gift shop purchase into their trip. It is the buyer's job to ensure their expectations are met and they can leave the zoo with the perfect keepsake.

What are the best products for zoo gift shops?

Products should be tailored to the experience. When it comes to zoo shops, that means showcasing the wonderful wildlife and unique animals that visitors have just interacted with, and perhaps even been introduced to. Of course that includes the beloved favourites - nobody can leave a giraffe or elephant enclosure without feeling an amazing sense of awe for nature and love for these gentle giants! Giraffes, elephants and lions leave an indelible impression on visitors and should absolutely feature on products if the zoo houses those animals.

But what about the animals that make the zoo unique? The species that visitors didn't even know existed until their visit, and which they will tell their friends and family about when they describe their day trip? If the zoo is home to elusive aye ayes, charismatic capybaras and endearing red pandas, these animals should be given pride of place in its gift shop. The shelves of the gift shop serve as a canvas for tangible memories, allowing visitors to take home a piece of the zoo's distinctive charm and ensuring their daytrip remains vivid in their minds as a cherished and enduring memory for years to come.

The educational element

Zoo shop products commonly have an educational element, adding a layer of depth to the overall zoo experience. The shelves are peppered with products designed not only to delight, but also to enlighten, extending the value of the zoo visit far beyond the park's boundaries. From children's books about wildlife conservation to nature explorer kits and games that unveil the wonders of the planet's extraordinary animals, these educational products find a fitting home in the zoo shop - a space uniquely positioned to inspire the next generation of conservationists.

At the heart of this educational initiative lies the exceptional collection of unusual and endangered animals that make each zoo distinct. Products featuring these animals have educational value in themselves. Take art prints of endangered species, for example. More than decorative pieces, when displayed in a home these pieces serve as beautiful reminders of the marvels of the wild. They not only become cherished souvenirs, evoking happy memories of a day at the zoo, but they act as conversation starters, helping individuals to share the important plea of endangered species.

In this way, the zoo shop becomes a hub not just for retail, but for fostering awareness, advocacy, and a deeper connection to the delicate balance of our planet's diverse ecosystems.

Sustainability in zoo shops

Through education, research, funding for conservation, and active involvement in species conservation (through breeding programmes, for example), zoos have important roles in wildlife conservation. A trip to the zoo is an educational experience about the natural world, the wonderful biodiversity we share our planet with and, in particular, the threats facing much of the world's wildlife. As such, I believe that all zoos should have a strong sustainability policy, and that should extend to the gift shop in an obvious, visible way.

Stocking sustainable products in the gift shop sends a clear and important message about the zoo's values. After all, how can a zoo claim to be a conservation force if the products they sell in their shop are produced, packaged and transported in ways that cause environmental damage and threaten the very species that the zoo is claiming to help protect?

Not only is it the ethical thing to do, but a comprehensive sustainability policy helps create a cohesive experience from the main zoo to the shop. In the carefully curated gift shop, visitors can still have a sense of a wild environment; they can feel connected with nature and still find lovely gifts as they transition from the enclosures to the shop.

Zoo shop products by Wild Lines

Wild Lines' wildlife-themed greeting cards, art prints and gift collections are designed with zoo and wildlife park shops in mind. There are so many incredible animals out there that don't get the attention they deserve in the retail world, and it is my mission to bring them into the spotlight! From wild dogs to dart frogs, Wild Lines products feature a great array of animals, including many endangered species, as well as commonly-featured species like giraffes and zebras.

The products are all high quality and carefully designed by hand. The detailed, true-to-life wildlife artwork makes the products perfect as zoo souvenirs. Wildlife art prints that can be displayed on the wall are popular keepsakes. And greeting cards are particularly popular with those who just want 'a little something' to take away and remember their visit by. We are constantly hearing from customers who choose to frame their cards and make them permanent features of their homes. If you need more reasons to stock greeting cards in your shop, read my blog post on the topic to get inspired!

We provide products that particularly resonate with animal-loving adults and are perfect for gifting, as well as keeping as souvenirs. The brand is as eco-friendly as possible, fitting with most zoo's sustainability policies, and many of the products (including greeting cards and art prints) feature the name of the species on the back. We stock a number of zoo shops around the UK, including London and Whipsnade Zoos, Jersey Zoo and Longleat Safari Park.

If you are interested in stocking Wild Lines products in your zoo gift shop, please email for more information.


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