The Ellen Trout Zoo is raising money to expand its classroom education facility. Some estimates show the zoo brings in $6-million a year to the Lufkin economy. The changes are needed to keep the zoo moving forward.
Ellen Trout Zoo is a major economic asset. Zoo visitors bring a lot of tourism dollars to Lufkin.
Gordon Henley, the director of the zoo, said, "We have a zip code survey, 52% of our visitors are from outside of Angelina County."
Everyone seems to have their favorite animals to see at the zoo and the classroom education programs are also popular.
Henley said, "One of our greatest needs is to expand our education facility, our demand for services and education program far exceeds our ability to meet those needs."
But both the zoo safari camp, and the junior zookeeper's program have had to turn away campers because of their small facilities.
Henley said, "We have had to turn away over a hundred people and that revenue is lost."
Right now, the zoo has raised $850-thousand to pay for improvements. But $1.7-million is the amount needed to start building the expanded classroom facility.
Henley said, "We are actively in the fundraising mode, people can get a little tile and kids can draw pictures. The tile will be part of the interior hallway. We accept donations, and are seeking private support for the endeavor."