Deck the halls with gifts for critters: Red River Zoo animals have their own Amazon wish list

Trying to figure out the perfect gift for a loved one this holiday season? You might want to check if they have an online gift registry. Many in the region do — including the animals at Fargo’s Red River Zoo.
Troy Becker / Forum News Service
Troy Becker / Forum News ServiceTroy Becker / Forum News Service

FARGO — The winter holidays are in full swing, with festive music on the radio and Hallmark cheesiness creeping its way onto televisions.

The holiday season has Santa and his elves working tirelessly to bring gifts to all the children in the world.

But Santa Claus gets busy. Whether he’s kissing mommy, looking for that '64 convertible too (light blue) or dealing with the police after Grandma got run over by his reindeer, sometimes he can’t get to everyone that deserves a present.

That's why Fargo's Red River Zoo turns to the community each holiday season to ask for gifts for surprising recipients: the animals that call the place home. Read more to the tune of "Jolly Old St. Nicholas" to find out why the zoo, 4255 23rd Ave. S., does this each year.

The Red River Zoo's Amazon wish list allows the community to support the animals this holiday season. (And yes, they have a sloth.) Getty Images / Special to The Forum
The Red River Zoo's Amazon wish list allows the community to support the animals this holiday season. (And yes, they have a sloth.) Getty Images / Special to The ForumGetty Images / Special to The Forum

‘Whisper what you’ll bring to me’

“Jolly good folks of Fargo,

Lean your ears this way.

Please tell everyone you know

What we’re going to say…”

For the sixth year, workers at the Red River Zoo in Fargo have created a Christmas Wish List to enhance and boost the items they use to care for animals.

“As a 100 percent nonprofit, we rely heavily on donations in order to grow and thrive,” says the zoo's executive director, Sally Jacobson. “It’s kind of fun for people to see the variety of things we need. It helps us on the back end financially as well because (the gift) is one less thing we have to purchase ourselves.”

These donations help with expenses as the temperature drops and the heating and food bills rise.

“Christmas Eve is coming soon,

You dear people so kind.

Whisper what you’ll send to us,

What do you have in mind”

When choosing items for the list, Jacobson says they look to the animals.

“Our animal department has an enrichment program,” she says. “We give all our animals something to psychologically, physically or mentally stimulate them every day and encourage species behavior. Those ones are fun to look up because they look like toys.”

Some of the items on the list include puzzle feeders, which require primates to manipulate toys in order to get a treat inside, a heater for birds to snuggle against when it’s cold out and a pastry stone that can be frozen for the smaller animals to cool off on in the summer.

“Goober wants a forager toy,

The Sakis want some mirrors.

Ester wants a ScratchNAll,

To scratch behind her ears.

As for keepers, they need clear bins,

To hold all of the food.

There’s also a list of other things,

Please pick what is good.”

“If you go through our facilities, there’s certain things we always have to buy — rakes or snow blowers, those kinds of things,” Jacobson says. “We always like to add those because sometimes people want to give beyond the animals and give significantly to the work that we do as well. We try to get a variety.”

Typically, when someone buys a gift off the wish list, the items are delivered directly to the zoo, making every new box arrival just like Christmas morning.

And with the giving spirit already in full swing, supporting the zoo can be a way to show that special (human) someone they are appreciated — without cluttering up their house because the gift will be used by the animals or keepers at the zoo.

“(The donations) are really quite significant,” Jacobson says. “Sometimes people don’t see how that impacts us. I, myself, feel like I have enough stuff. So when I give to an organization in someone’s name, it’s really gratifying.”

How to donate

To make a donation, visit To find the Amazon Wish List, click the link on zoo's holiday giving page or search “Red River Zoo” in the Amazon search bar.