A good zoo will have some animals to compliment its train

We’ve upgraded our zoo experience. We discovered a new zoo that is much more interesting than our little hometown zoo. Instead of merely watching freight trains pass by on the adjacent tracks, we can ride on a little train at the new zoo. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know that my son judges zoos based upon the quality of trains they offer. My son judges all public attractions by the quality of trains they offer.

Zoo train

Our favorite zoo animal in our new favorite zoo.

We didn’t let any animals distract us on our way to the train depot. The engine sounded suspiciously like a tractor to me, but the boy did not take note of that incongruity. Our rail journey began at the petting zoo, where railroad gates kept the public off our track. From there, we went directly off into the woods, where the only animals we saw were the occasional squirrel and the free-range mosquitos.

The ride lasted about 15 minutes. Having gotten it out of the way, we surmised that the boy might be able to show some attention to the animals within the petting zoo. This miscalculation hadn’t accounted for the railroad gates.

If one is not actually riding on the train, the next best place to be is standing next to the railroad crossing as the train comes through. Consequently, as all the other children in the world were petting baby goats and miniature ponies, or getting spat upon by a temperamental lama, my son and I sat on a bench next to the railroad crossing, waiting for the sound of an approaching train.

Crossing signal

The best spot in the whole zoo, for those not riding the train.

The train must have gone out just before we got there, because it seemed as though we waited for a good while. Perhaps they were waylaid by a marauding band of chipmunks. Whatever the delay, my son used the time to closely examine the crossing signal. He is fascinated by crossing signals. He would have one in his bedroom if he could devise a way to get it there.

All around, children held themselves rapt in the antics of the animals. A little girl voiced her disgust that the pony seemed enamored of his own poop. Many little hands held out pellets for scrambling goats. Young people learned valuable lessons about the personal space needs of a lama. Meanwhile, one four-year-old considered the odds of being able to manually pull down the railroad gate and likely consequences of doing so.

Waving to the train

A bittersweet moment: near the train, yet not on the train.

These calculations were unnecessary, as we soon heard the train approaching. The boy stepped back and watched the gates fall of their own accord. As he stood outside the gate, the train passed by, making it a truly wonderful world. Having experienced the railroad from both sides of the crossing gate, the boy was satisfied at last.

Now, we could visit the giraffes, zebras, and other superfluous fluff that zoos sometimes install as extra frill around their trains.