Ellen Trout Zoo lets kids be zoo keepers - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Ellen Trout Zoo lets kids be zoo keepers

By Mystic Matthews

For the past 10 years, the Ellen Trout Zoo has given kids like Morgan Browning, the opportunity to learn about taking care of animals.

"The program is called Jr. Zoo Keeper and we are partnered up with a Zoo Keeper and we go and help them," says Browning.

But this is no ordinary, play with the animals, type summer camp.

The zoo education director says its real work.

"The green team is an area of the zoo with the black bear, the raccoons, the monkeys, the flamingos and we help with their diet, clean their shift cages and exhibits and cool stuff like that," says Browning.

Thursday, they learned how to shoot a blow gun with a tranquilizer dart and earlier this week, they got to do a physical on the tiger.  But despite the hard work, the kids say it's fun.

"I like the giraffes because when you feed them, they wrap their tongue around the branch, so it's really fun," says Browning.

But they also learn about safety, because wild animals can be dangerous.

"I've learned a lot about what do to if an animal escapes," says Browning.

The director, Charlotte Henley says this is a two week program, but it's tough to get in.  The kids must have submitted a recommendation letter, written an essay and gone through an interview to be chosen.

This year, 27 kids applied, but they only have room for 20.  And they must have a genuine interest in biology or zoology.

"It might help because maybe I want to be a zoologist," says Browning.

Tomorrow is the last day and the kids say they can't wait to come back next year.

"I really like animals more now that I know what they eat and how they adapt to their environment at the zoo," says Browning.

Click here to visit the Ellen Trout Zoo website

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