Anyone who’s ever been to Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin knows that while taking a peek at the other animals, you’re more than likely to happen upon a peafowl strutting along the walkways.

The peafowl roam freely throughout the zoo, and it’s been that way — at the very least — since 1976, when Gordon Henley became director.

“They’re pretty much a home-range bird, and they don’t migrate far off the property,” he said. “It’s been kind of nice to have them.”

The staff members don’t have to do anything to get the birds to remain at the zoo — they just stay. At night, the peafowl normally flock to the treetops, Henley said.

“They’re interesting in that sometimes they’re indicators of things,” he said. “If we are gonna have a storm come up, they don’t get in the trees — they stay under, low to the ground, and they’ll get flat. When you see them do that, it’s almost as good as the weather man.”

Currently, there are around 50 peafowl that roam the zoo.

“There used to be a lot more and they went to other locations who needed some real pretty birds, and that helps maintain the population that we have,” he said.

Henley said the zoo sometimes has little kids who will try to play with the peafowl.

“That’s what kids do, so we just try to watch for that,” he said.

There are three species of peafowl: Indian, Green and Congo. The ones at the zoo are Indian peafowl, Henley said.

“The Congo is a threatened or vulnerable species, and the Green ones are endangered,” he said. “The blue neck — the males and females are what’s called ‘dimorphic.’ They don’t look alike, except the white ones that we have, and those are not albino, they’re just mutations.”

In the case of ordinary Indian peafowl, males have blue necks and females have tan bodies. Female Green peafowl have green necks and can have the “train,” Henley said.

“Both males and females have those, and the Congo peafowl are smaller and gray and do not have the big, long train that we think of with peafowl, the big spread,” he said.

Staff members pay attention to public input the zoo gets, and for the most part, people enjoy seeing the peafowl, Henley said. The birds are something people can connect with as they’re walking through the zoo.

“People like them. Every now and then, you’ll hear somebody say, ‘Oh, there’s too many peacocks out there.’ But most of the time, it’s ‘Oh, they got the peafowl and they’re walking.’ And they don’t bother anybody,” he said. “Most of the time, if you read the comments about the peafowl, people love them. They’re iconic and impressive.”