Kiwanis of Lufkin, TX

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Ellen Trout Zoo is located on North Loop 287 in Lufkin, Texas. In 1965, Lufkin Industries President, Walter Trout, received the most unusual Christmas present. Trout who was a Board Member of Texas Utilities Co. told a fellow board member from Philadelphia about a desire to start a zoo in Lufkin. At Christmas ,Trout was really surprised when a 500 lb. Hippopotamus arrived as a Christmas present from the Philadelphia director.

Plans for a zoo, which previously had only been vaguely discussed, swung into high gear. Joe Byrd, President of the Lufkin Rotary Club and a consultant Design Engineer for Lufkin Industries was given this job. Nobody in Lufkin knew anything about zoos but the arrival of the baby hippo spurred them on to build one.

Meanwhile the Monroe, LA zoo boarded the hippopotamus. By the time the hippo pen was completed, after 18 months had elapsed, the baby hippo weighed 1000 lbs. and presented a real challenge in getting it unloaded from the truck and into the new pen.

Thus in the summer of 1967, the present day zoo was founded and was built around the hippo pen. Today it is fully accredited by the AZA, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and is a fine attribute to our small city. It is under the direction of Gordon Henley and his able staff. The hippo exhibit attracted the children of Lufkin. Year after year they voted it the most popular zoo exhibit.

The hippo grew to weigh 5000 lbs. by the time he died in 1998 much to the dismay of his keepers. The Friends of the Zoo Organization is making plans and raising money for a new hippo exhibit. The public can contribute by donating $35.00 to buy a paving brick inscribed with the family name and a short comment. The brick will be laid as a part of a sidewalk leading to the new exhibit. The zoo is undergoing a million and a half dollar expansion. The newest exhibit includes two Maasai giraffes, "Rafiki" and "Emi-Lane". Rafki was born Aug. 9, 1996 in the San Diego Zoo. Rafki was transferred to the Houston Zoo then to Lufkin. He weighed 1020 pounds when he arrived. Emi-Lane was born Oct. 1, 1997 in the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island. She arrived on June 6, 1999 weighing 680 pounds. The two Southern White Rhinoceroses are brothers who were assigned to Ellen Trout Zoo through the Species Survival Plan (SSP). Both were born in the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, TX. "Stormy" is the older animal born 12-14-1990 and weighing 3190 pounds when he arrived in Ellen Trout on June 9, 1999. His younger brother, "Bwana", was born 7-21-1994 and weighed 2760 pounds when he arrived at the same time. A new exhibit is about to start and expected to be complete by the summer of 2001 and it will feature underwater viewing of hippopotami, something currently only available in Florida, California and Ohio. The Lufkin Ellen Trout Zoo is a great zoo for a city of any size.

Alligators in the lake at Ellen Trout Zoo has become a problem, in the minds of some, and demands have been made to have them removed. For more information on this see Alligators.

Since 1989, the Lufkin Kiwanis Club has participated in yearly projects at the zoo after Kiwanian Past Lt. Gov. Fred Jacobs and Zoo Director Gordon Henley got together in joint planning. This has been a rewarding venture for both the Ellen Trout Zoo and the Lufkin Kiwanis Club. To date, thirteen projects have been completed at the expenditure of over 3200 man hours and a total donation of more than $35,000.00 for materials. Projects have included the following:

  1. 1989-90 - Wolves Den I and II
  2. 1991 - Mandarin Duck and Koi Carp
  3. 1992 - Black Buck Antelope Habitat
  4. 1993 - Bird Sanctuary
  5. 1994 - Orientation Center
  6. 1995 - Bob Cat Liberation
  7. 1996 - Wallaby and Emu Exhibits
  8. 1997 - Deer Habitat
  9. 1998 - Sloth/Agouti/Marmoset Exhibit
  10. 1999 - Galapagas Tortoise Project
  11. 2000 - Duiker Dik Dik Project
  12. 2001 - Guan Project
  13. 2002 - Spectacled Owl and King Vulture
  14. 2003/04 - Komodo Dragon Project

Link to Ellen Trout Zoo Page

Main Kiwanis Page ] Officers ] Committees ] Other Past Projects ] Current Projects ]

To see some miscellaneous pictures of residents of the Ellen Trout Zoo, not necessarily related to Kiwanis projects, click HERE.

Original 2/11/99
Last updated 6/20/2007
Page by F. Jacobs
and F. Preston