Do you have an animal lover in your life? Give them an elephant or cheetah this holiday season.

For what it costs to buy a gift card to Best Buy or Macy’s, you could spend the same and help an animal in need. For an animal lover, that’s a special gift. And this year, why not go big and exotic?

We found five charities (all highly rated) for these endangered creatures…

1. The Elephant Sanctuary

This oasis for elephants is located in the small town of Hohenwald, about 40 miles southwest of Nashville. Make a donation of $10 or more to “Adopt an Elephant” for your friends, and they’ll receive an adoption certificate, a photo of the elephant, and electronic news updates. You can also buy charitable gifts such as T-shirts, hats, and jewelry at prices ranging from $15 and up. Nearly 74 percent of the charity budget funds their programs and services.

2. Big Cat Rescue

Located in Tampa, you can sponsor a big cat for $25, and your friends will receive a four-page color fact sheet about the species, a “Big Cat Rescue” window decal, and a registration card. The card has the link to the website to see the cats and their bios — your friends choose the cats they want and receive an 8×10 color photo of each cat with its name and their name as sponsor printed on it. You can also shop online in their store for a variety of gifts. Eighty percent of the charity’s budget funds programs and services.

3. International Rhino Foundation

Headquartered in Fort Worth, a donation of $30 provides your recipients with an adoption certificate, a photo and bio of their new rhino, as well as regular rhino. This donation helps to feed and care for the rhino for two days. A $60 donation increases that to four days. Nearly 90 percent of the charity budget covers their programs and expenses.

4. International Wolf Center

Located in a Minnesota state park near the Canadian border, the center will award your friends with a Special International Wolf Center 2014 calendar, a one-year subscription to International Wolf magazine, discounts on (and invitations to) educational and recreational programs, and a 10-percent discount at the Wolf Den Store on apparel, books and other wolf-related merchandise. All this for a donation of $35. Eighty-six percent of the money raised supports its programs and expenses.

5. Sea Turtle Conservancy

Located in Gainesville, home of the University of Florida, the conservancy offers the following for a donation of $30 or more: a personalized adoption certificate, a Sea Turtle Conservation Guide, a membership window cling, a sea turtle sticker and bookmark, a hatchling magnet, and a one-year subscription to STC’s membership publication. Eighty-seven percent of money collected through charity is used to fund their programs and services.

If you want to choose another charity organization, review their qualifications, reputation and, most importantly, how they spend the money they receive. Check out Charity Navigator or GuideStar Charity Check. And happy holidays.


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Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski


Bienkowski is a contributing writer and is the face of's 'By the Numbers' videos.

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Article last modified on October 4, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: 5 charitable gifts for animal lovers - AMP.