Ellen Trout Zoo to rename hippopotamus exhibit

The zoo will recognize Barbara Trout Corbett's legacy by combining the two iconic figures of the zoo into one, renaming the hippo exhibit in her honor.
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 7:00 PM CST
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - There have been two mainstays at the Ellen Trout Zoo since it opened in 1967.

The first is Barbara Trout Corbett, the granddaughter of Zoo Founder Walter Trout and the great-granddaughter of the namesake of the zoo, Ellen Trout.

“She was part of the zoo the entire time I’ve been here, besides the little bit of time she was in school,” Zoo Director Gordon Henley said.

She was there the moment the zoo opened.

“In 1967 her first role to the zoo was to cut the ribbon opening the zoo and being present when her grandfather handed the keys of the city over to Mayor Earl Nesbit,” Henley said.

The second mainstay is the hippos, which made Walter Trout’s dream of opening a zoo in Lufkin a reality.

“It was the first major animal,” Henley said. “Mr. Trout had been pushing for the zoo for a long time.”

Hippy the Hippo was a gift from friends of the Trouts in 1965. People aren’t sure exactly where Hippy lived for his first few days, but Henley said it’s possible Trout kept him at his house. Though, eventually, he was kept at the zoo in Monroe, Louisiana, before he moved back to his permanent home at the Ellen Trout Zoo.

Hippy eventually died in 1998, and Corbett made her way to the Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, to handpick two new hippos, Nakili and Jazi, because the zoo needed its original attractions.

“In terms of historical significance, it’d be the most significant animal,” Henley said.

Corbett died this July, though the zoo will honor her legacy by combining the two iconic figures of the zoo into one by renaming the hippo exhibit the Barbara Trout Corbett Hippoquarium.

“I think it’s a fitting one too because the Trout family history with the Hippos and the zoo,” Henley said.

The City of Lufkin approved the renaming of the exhibit on Nov. 15, and the two hippos that Corbett handpicked, Nakili and Jazi, are still living at the newly named hippoquarium.