As soon as I saw the sun was out and the temperatures were cool, I knew exactly what I needed: a trip to Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin with my husband, Ryan – our favorite place to go on a date. I loaded up my car with my camera and my husband in hand. Off we went to the zoo Thursday afternoon!
Ellen Trout Zoo was one of the first places I visited as a young girl in Lufkin; I can remember the visits of seeing the hippo, alligators, and tigers. I remember when they got giraffes for the first time, and now the Zoo staff is working hard to earn enough money to fund gorillas. How exciting is that?
My husband and I made our way to the Zoo and walked into the front gates. Alligators and pink flamingos were the first animals to see. Ryan pointed out how one alligator was using a turtle as a pillow in the water, and I pointed out that some of the flamingos weren’t getting along too well.
We kept moving: We saw monkeys, a peacock shimmering their feathers to grab the attention of a couple of peahen (It didn’t work out too well for the peacock. The females just walked away.). We saw a couple of otters playing in the water and some resting porcupines. I don’t want to get in their way!
Next, we came across two of my favorite animals at the Zoo: hippos. However, they were swimming, and it was hard to see in the murky water. But luckily, Ryan wanted to wait a little bit longer to see if they would come out of the pond. Every now and then we would see them come up above the water, and then swim down. Then all of sudden they started to get out. I grabbed my camera and knew I had to capture this moment. One of the hippos got out all the way, and she started to walk around. I started snapping. She was one the most beautiful creatures I’ve ever seen. Then as swiftly as she got out, she went back into the water.
So Ryan and I kept walking.
We then saw the giraffes and rhinos – such big, beautiful animals. I had thought that I would not want to meet that rhino face to face; those horns are huge! The giraffes were hiding behind the trees getting ready to go in for the night.
Then I saw Asher, the lion cub, for the first time. He wasn’t so little anymore! It reminded me of when Simba from “The Lion King” was growing up, and the song “The Lion Sleep Tonight” came to mind. I snapped photos while Asher pounced on his mother, played with the ball, scratched on the trees, and rested under the shade.
Next, we saw the tigers, a bobcat; big cats are my all-time favorite animal. I will spend endless hours watching YouTube videos of tigers and lions!
We kept walking and saw more birds, lizards, snakes, and all sorts of animals.
One last stop before we left Ellen Trout Zoo was to try the new hiking trail along the pond out front. It was absolutely the perfect day for hiking. It was even more beautiful walking with the tall trees peering over me. My camera got a lot of use while hiking this trail. The trail even goes under the metal bridge and into the forest!
Not only is the Zoo my favorite place to visit in Lufkin, it’s my favorite place to tell my friends and family when they come to visit. Not only do you get to see animals of all kinds, there is a playground to play on, a concession stand, a train to ride, and fishing in the pond.
The Ellen Trout Zoo staff are also celebrating 50 years in operation. They are holding events throughout the year to celebrate the big milestone. On March 4 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. the staff is hosting Raiders of the Lost Zoo for children 12-years-old or younger. The event will include a treasure hunt, safari lunch, and an opportunity to learn about the zoo reptiles at the Education Building at the Zoo. The cost is $15 per child and advanced purchase is required.
Lesson learned from Thursday’s adventure: I’m just a big kid who loves animals at the zoo. While I can’t easily go to Africa or Asia for the day, there are animals in East Texas that teach me a little bit about that side of the world.
For more information on upcoming events at Ellen Trout Zoo, visit their website by clicking here.
- Megan Whitworth is the former creative director of Texas Forest Country Living. Growing up in East Texas, Megan discovered her love of writing at the age of 11, writing song lyrics and poetry, which turned into essays and articles for publications around East Texas. She later added photography into the mix capturing Friday night football games, the latest fashion looks, and portraits of people around the nation. Megan enjoys karaoke, blogging, reading, and road trips. She resides in Lufkin with her husband, Ryan, and two cats, Felix and Lucy.