Tucked under the blue tarp between the giraffe exhibit and the petting zoo, the shop is one of the most unique parts of the zoo. Lined with shelves of bones, stones and even cones, The Swap Shop is all about getting kids engaged with nature.
“We want you to get out in nature and find cool things like rocks or maybe seashells, even acorns,” Sara Riger, one of the full-time employees, told a group of children gathered around her.
Riger is holding Charles, a San Esteban chuckwalla, next to the shop’s aquarium.
As she answers questions about the 30-year-old reptile – “Charles is an old man,” she says – Riger also explains why the group should make a return trip to the shop.
“If you go out and find some things out, say at the beach or the woods, and you find treasures. You can bring them in here and trade them for things we have in here,” she said.