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Zoo Train

The Scovill Zoo train, shown in this 2014 file photo, is temporarily out of commission after a piece of the track splayed. 

DECATUR — The Z.O.&O Express Train at the Scovill Zoo could offer extended rides one day.

The Howard Buffett Foundation donated $2 million to study and build a longer track for the train last year. Engineers are studying the soil and options for the route the train would take, but nothing has yet been decided, zoo Director Ken Frye said.

“We still have a lot of ideas to work out,” Frye said. “They might start building next summer if they get all the engineering studies done.”

One option might be to go along the Lake Decatur shoreline and over to the Children's Museum of Illinois. Another option is past the wolf and bald eagle exhibits and to the children's museum, Frye said. 

The train will be out of commission for a couple of days after a piece of track splayed, causing one of the wheels to come off the track. Frye said the train will be operational again Thursday if repairs go smoothly.

The train takes passengers on a one-mile narrated tour of the zoo and was added in 1984. It's a scaled replica of the 1863 C.P. Huntington steam train.

The zoo is also gearing up for the annual Zoo-rific Evening, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26. The event, which has a Las Vegas theme, will include hors d'oeuvres and dinner from Beach House, Bizou, Country Club of Decatur, The Gin Mill, Il Forno, Red Panda Catering, Richland Community College Bistro Five Thirty Seven and TapRoot. Elvis will be the entertainment — or at least a band featuring an impersonator.

It's a Las Vegas theme, so we have to have Elvis,” Frye quipped.

Two new wolf pups arrived Sunday and are getting to know Tilly, the gray wolf, though there's still a fence between them. Tilly seems happy to have them near, Frye said.

“So far they look good,” he said. “They run up and down the fence together, and we haven't seen any aggressive signs between the pups and Tilly.”

Once the pups have passed their vet physicals, they can move in with Tilly if they all continue to get along.

The new zebras are doing well, also, Frye said. Named "Fluffy" and "Spud," they arrived from Zoo Knoxville and went on exhibit for the first time Aug. 5, the zoo previously announced

“I'm really happy with how the transition went,” Frye said.

The zoo has returned to fall hours of operation now that school has started, open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the week and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. 

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Herald & Review.

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