Zoo previews future railway with new rendering


Construction steams ahead as workers lay tracks for new route

Exhibit designers released a sneak peek of the new Oregon Zoo railway this week, giving the community its first look at a route optimized for spectacular views of animals and the annual winter ZooLights display starting in late 2014.

"We're honored to operate one of the Pacific Northwest's most beloved railways, and we've designed a new route that will build upon that legacy," said Heidi Rahn, Better Zoo program director. "It will be more than just a train ride — it will be an entirely new perspective of the zoo."

"It will be an entirely new perspective of the zoo."

—Heidi Rahn, Better Zoo program manager

In late September, the zoo's popular trio of trains — the Zooliner, the Centennial Steam Train, and the Oregon Express — was temporarily put out of service as crews began laying track for the new loop. The railway is scheduled to reopen in time for ZooLights 2014.

The future route will encircle an elevated trestle in the forest north of Elephant Lands, providing unique views of the Asian elephant herd and opening a new path for the ZooLights display. Rerouting will also keep construction traffic away from visitor areas as the zoo undergoes a monumental decade-long renovation. See the summer train rendering.

"The zoo has expanded significantly since the railway opened in 1958," Rahn said. "We're very excited to write the next chapter in our 125-year history with a train that gives visitors an amazing experience and gives animals the improved habitats they deserve."

While the train won't be running for this season of ZooLights, the famous Oregon steam engine will still be decked out in holiday finery near the train station, making a festive photo backdrop.

The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.

Media contact: 

Hova Najarian | 503-220-5714 | hova.najarian@oregonzoo.org