LUFKIN, Texas — Many businesses in East Texas have yet to recover from last month's winter storm.
One, in particular, is Lufkin’s own Ellen Trout Zoo. Though they've been in business since 1967, nothing could have prepared them for the winter storm.
“As the time progressed, the storm got worse than we had ever even imagined," zoo director, Gordon Henley, said.
He described how they acted quickly to protect more than 800 animals.
"We picked up every animal that could possibly be moved and we put them in any shelter. We used public restrooms and off-exhibit areas," he said.
You can see here two of the 40 total West African Crowned Cranes strutting around the restroom with stalls just behind them.
“We made sure the lions and tigers, jaguars, giraffes, rhinos, and hippos were all inside," Henley said.
This all happened before the weather hit. Once it did, things got worse.
“The trees in the park and zoo cannot withstand the weight of the ice and snow. And Wednesday, they began to fall. Trees fell, limbs fell," Henley said.
He says that this storm did more damage than the past two hurricanes put together. Now that the worst is over, fallen trees and collapsed structures still lie between this zoo and its guests, eager to get back inside.
The storm stole a lot from the Ellen Trout Zoo, but it didn’t steal any animals. Out of more than 800 of them, all survived. If all goes to plan, the zoo may be able to open as soon as this weekend.
Anyone interested in donating to recovery efforts can do so through their FaceBook page.