Willow Park Zoo building new gift shop

Thanksgiving is known as the season of giving. This year the Willow Park Zoo will have gifts to provide.

On Nov. 29 the Willow Park Zoo will celebrate the newest addition to the zoo — a gift shop. The gift shop is currently under construction, and although Troy Cooper, the director of the zoo, said for now it’s just four walls and a ceiling, it represents something a lot bigger for the zoo.

“What we hoped to help improve the look,” Cooper said. “That it gives a face lift to the zoo. It points us in a new direction of new things to come. This is just the first of continuous changes long-term.”

The gift shop will help the zoo earn a small income while displaying some of the local talent of Cache Valley.

“We are going to have all local crafts,” said Barbara Tew, the education director. “We’re trying not to be a souvenir gift shop. We want to keep the money in Cache Valley.”

The zoo has been reaching out to locals that are interested in selling their crafts at the zoo.

“We have a lot of people lined up,” Tew said. “We have people coming out of the wood work to sell their crafts at the gift shop.”

Jennifer Hawkins has been doing crafts for the last year as a hobby. So when she saw the zoo was looking for people to sell their crafts at the new gift shop, she contacted the zoo and began making crafts to sell. Hawkins said that this was a good way for her to make a little money on the side.

Hawkins has made bird feeders, bird baths and other crafts to sell at the gift shop.

“The zoo only keeps 20 percent of the money,” Hawkins said. “I plan on donating my 80 percent to the disabled.”

The zoo plans to keep the gift shop open for a few hours each night until winter ends. When Willow Park opens in the summer, it will be open full time.

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