DIY stuffed animal zoo

“You spent HOW MUCH on bungee cording!” There was a sentence I never imagined saying.

It all started when I saw photos of stuffed animal ‘zoos’ on Pinterest. The idea was to make a wooden cage for the zillions of stupid stuffed animals your children won’t let you throw out (but never play with, of course). You use bungee cords to make the ‘bars’ of the cage so it’s easy to cram more of those fuzzy, falling-apart dust-collectors in there.

I was planning to build two of them myself — one for each of our children’s rooms — but my handy husband was intrigued by the idea and decided he’d do it. I told him to go for it, and patiently answered texts while he sent me pictures of different bungee cord colours from the hardware store.

After I picked the pretty yellow bungee and he brought it home, I discovered he’d actually just bought a lot of non-stretchy rope. He went back and returned later with actual bungee cording, but it wasn’t nearly as pretty.

Please excuse the lack of ‘progress’ photos this week, dear readers, as my husband built the cage without me realizing he was out in his Woodshop of Solitude in the backyard.

DIY Stuffed Animal Zoo {Heather's Handmade Life}
DIY Stuffed Animal Zoo {Heather’s Handmade Life}

He is not a man of many words, but he says he cut two squares of plywood, built a small lip around each, and connected them with four wooden legs. I suspect the most fun part was drilling so many holes for stringing the bungee cording.

He held it up proudly and I admired his nice work. But then I realized … wait a second …

“Did you use ALL of the bungee cord on this one cage?”

He nodded sheepishly. Forty-four dollars! On bungee cording! For one cage! Well, that settled it — both kids would be sharing the one “zoo,” ’cause we weren’t spending another $44 on bungee cording.

I sanded and painted the zoo the next day, and bit my tongue when I realized I had to stretch each “bar” away from the wood in order to paint around the knots. If you tackle this project yourself, make sure to paint the wood before your husband ties a million ropes into a million knots. Seriously.

It just took one coat of paint, luckily (Fusion Mineral Paint in “Fort York Red”) and then I roughed up the edges with a bit of sandpaper to distress it. I almost stopped there, but then decided to run out to buy white wooden letters that spell “OUR ZOO” and tacked them on with finishing nails.

DIY Stuffed Animal Zoo {Heather's Handmade Life}
DIY Stuffed Animal Zoo {Heather’s Handmade Life}

Then it was time to bring in the free labour (i.e. kids) to load it up with stuffies. SO. MANY. STUFFIES. It fit EVERY stuffed animal we have and there’s still plenty of room. When the kids want to play with one, they just stretch the bars apart and release their little buddy.

I’m still not a fan of stuffed animals — give me a Barbie or LEGO set any day. But this project did get the stuffies off the floor (and out of the beds, where they were crushed and sat on and rarely hugged). Plus, they do look much cuter in there than they did anywhere else.

My son got the idea to replace his nightstand with the zoo, which was totally brilliant. (And it means I get to repurpose the nightstand for another room, hmmmm.)

So if you have to have stuffed animals lying around, this is certainly the nicest way to keep them. And by “nicest,” of course, I mean “least ugly” and “most space-saving.”


UPDATED TO ADD: Here’s how we redid it, years later, for our daughter’s bedroom …


Pin this project for later …

DIY Stuffed Animal Zoo {Heather's Handmade Life}
DIY Stuffed Animal Zoo {Heather’s Handmade Life}

One Comment on “DIY stuffed animal zoo

  1. Pingback: Build your own slide-out pantry – Heather's Handmade Life

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