Friends of Ellen Trout Zoo (FOETZ) is a non profit organization that assists the Zoo in a supportive capacity. FOETZ began in 1984 when Suzanne Briscoe was a docent at the zoo as an assignment from the Lufkin Service League (now the Junior League of Lufkin). At the time, Suzanne was trying to help the zoo get a walk-in freezer. As she worked this task, the group she assembled to help became the nucleus of Friends of Ellen Trout Zoo.
FOETZ came into existence at a time when admission to the zoo was free. The zoo had no dedicated means of support for growth, maintenance, and development. Its founding mission was to provide this dedicated means of support for the zoo. As the zoo grew so did FOETZ. Small projects like the lion water fountain grew into large projects like the revolutionary Hippoquarium. Currently, FOETZ focuses on funding for major expansion and renovation projects in the Zoo's master plan. Giraffes, Rhinoceroses, and Hippopotamuses are featured at the Zoo in exhibits funded by FOETZ.
FOETZ offers many ways for people to support the zoo. A membership is a good value for people interested in animal conservation as well as helping to support funding for projects. Community events such as Zoo Boo add to the good will of the zoo. Zoo Brew is another annual event put on by Friends of Ellen Trout Zoo to raise funds for the expansion of the Zoo.