LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) – The Ellen Trout Zoo held its annual endangered species extravaganza on Saturday as part of Endangered Species Day.
The zoo’s four stated goals of conservation, research, education and recreation were all on display to celebrate and educate visitors about endangered animals.
All animals received enrichment items for fun, and the zoo was joined by students from Lufkin High School who volunteered to help educate the public about conservation efforts.
“We’re talking about an organization that zoos across the country come together and support to raise awareness about endangered species,” said Lufkin High School student Courtney Adams.
This organization is the Association of Zoos and Aquariums which raises funds for its Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program. Zoos across the country are celebrating in the same way to have the biggest impact on the world.
“All of these conservation efforts are kind of coming together so we can have a bigger impact on our planet,” said Whitney Heckler, director of education at Ellen Trout Zoo.
Proceeds go to the SAFE program, but the Ellen Trout Zoo wants to make a local impact by educating the public about the animals and the challenges they face, bringing them closer to extinction.
“I think it’s important for new generations to understand what’s happening to these species,” said volunteer Jilian. “Because we want them to be there when they are our age or our parents’ age.”
It’s also a passion project for many volunteers who grew up in the area and want to give back to help animals or start a career helping animals.
“I really always loved going to the zoo growing up and I’m passionate about animals and do everything I can to help them,” said Lufkin High School student Adeline.
And the volunteers explain in detail the man-made problems that can hurt animals, especially animals that need specific habitats to survive, but lose ground to humans, creating a loss of habitat.
“Well, we just have to educate adults as well as children,” said Charda Bronaugh, a volunteer. “You just think Africa is a big place, there are a lot of places for gorillas. But that’s not the case.
Stalls were placed all around the zoo to focus on zoo-specific animals like giraffes, rhinos, flamingos and even some that didn’t have zoo enclosures like gorillas.
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