Ellen Trout Zoo attends global animal conservation meeting

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The Ellen Trout Zoo recently made an appearance in Argentina. However, instead of scouting out additions to the zoo, staff say they were learning from a group called the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

"That is an organization that is part of an international movement to conserve all nature," said zoo director, Gordon Henley.

Henley said the crocodile subgroup of the organization achieved what many would see as its goal.

"The organization started in the early seventies when crocodile populations were very, very low, and the focus was strictly on conservation," Henley said. Fifty years later, crocodile populations have done a tremendous rebound."

Gordon added that the work is not done. Now the increased populations of these animals are big enough that they could affect the lives of nearby people.

"We're looking at things of management," Henley said. "How do you maintain a population of animals in the wild, like I said, with the humans? As human populations grow, they move out into areas, and those areas are inhabited by alligators or crocodiles."

Zookeeper Orr said that this process of management is valuable because it applies to multiple other species.

"We cannot just take a within ourselves approach and look at things," Orr said. "We have to look at the big picture, which is so much. So, without pulling information and knowledge and sharing that from all of those different institutions, we just wouldn't be able to be successful."

Gordon added that crocodile management here in East Texas could be seen with the zoo itself taking in wild crocodiles like they've done in the past with their alligators.

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