Native Animals in Need

Not all the animals at the Caldwell Zoo come from faraway places. We believe in helping animals in need, no matter where they’re found. Some members of our animal family were saved right from our own East Texas backyard.

If an animal runs into trouble, we do our best to nurture it back to health. When appropriate, we even give an animal in need a safe “forever” home. Here are some local rescue stories about animals that needed a little extra tender loving care.

Local Stories


Sox the Fox

When you visit the zoo, you may notice a spunky, bushy-tailed fox. That’s Sox, the red fox. He is often seen running around his habitat, located just off the boardwalk in the North American section of the zoo.

Sox has a special story and a special place in our hearts. In 2013, when he was just a young kit, Sox was severely injured by a car on the outskirts of Tyler. Luckily, a caring witness rushed him to a wildlife rehabilitation expert, who treated his wounds. Even so, Sox was left with some permanent vision, hearing and neurological damage. He simply could not care for himself in the wild.

Sox needed special attention if he was going to survive. At the veterinarian’s request, Sox was brought to the Caldwell Zoo and given a safe and permanent home. Despite his challenges, he continues to stay energetic and healthy. You may see him run in circles or act a bit shy, but that’s just Sox being Sox. He may be a bit eccentric, but we are honored to have him as part of the family.


Pearl the Otter

One spring day a hiker noticed what seemed to be a lost animal along the Trinity River near Dallas. Upon closer inspection, he discovered the wet furball was a baby otter. Severely dehydrated and with no other otters in sight, she was in trouble.

The weak pup was rushed to a wildlife center in Flint, Texas. Tanya Thibodeaux, a trained rehabilitator, took in the young female. Initially, she was so little that she had to be bottle-fed. As the weeks went by, the otter responded well, gaining confidence and playing with other orphan otters at the center. She was given the name Pearl.

The orphan otters matured together, getting stronger and learning to forage for their own food, just as they would in the wild. After months of rehabilitation, the three young otters were released into their natural habitat on the shores of Lake Palestine. To everyone’s surprise, four days later Pearl showed back up at the rehabilitation center eight miles away! She had lost a lot of weight and was suffering from cuts and bruises, but she made it.

Fearing the risks to Pearl if she attempted the arduous journey again, the rehabilitators decided she could not be returned to the wild safely. That’s how Pearl came to join our otter family at the Caldwell Zoo, where she has been a guest favorite ever since.

Indy Bald Eagle

Indy the Bald Eagle

The bald eagle is an awesome bird species. Majestic, powerful and graceful, it’s no wonder the bald eagle was chosen as a symbol for our country. So, it was a sad day when a young eagle was found alone on the ground, crippled by a broken wing. Left unattended, there was no way he would survive.

Like Pearl the otter, he was taken to a specially trained wildlife rehabilitator who named him Indy. It was obvious Indy would never be able to fly, but by giving him special treatment, his life could be saved. After months of delicate care, Indy’s wounds healed, and he regained his health. But bald eagles grow to be large and strong, and he’d needed a very special place to be able to live a long life. Once again, the Caldwell Zoo stepped up and provided a custom-built habitat just for Indy. Today he is often seen standing nobly on his perch, greeting visitors as they admire his regal good looks.

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