Children's Zoo at Celebration Square
In January, 1967, the Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square introduced a new attraction: a miniature train. This brand new train was purchased from the Allan Herschell Company and is model number S-24, also known as the "Iron Horse". The Iron Horse is a miniature train designed to carry a larger number of passengers per trip than prior park trains. Its cars have colorfully painted canopies to protect riders from the sun. Each car is 17 feet long and can carry up to 14 adults. The engine was designed to resemble vintage locomotives of the 1870s. The same type of train was shipped all over the world to locations in Toronto, Canada, San Paulo, Brazil, Tokyo, Japan, and Barcelona, Spain.
The Zoo would not have been able to make this purchase without funds from Dr. Carl H. Iberschoff, a Saginaw school teacher, who left the money to the city of Saginaw for improvement of parks and playgrounds. The train is affectionately called the Iberschoff Special, in memory of Dr. Iberschoff's generosity.
The Iberschoff Special is brightly painted in red and black and comes fully equipped with brass fittings, including a bell and a whistle to greet park animals and visitors. The Train ride quickly became, and has remained, one of the most popular attractions at the Children's Zoo. The Iberschoff Special has run faithfully for over 40 years despite increasing challenges in its maintenance.
Finally, the maintenance challenges caught up with the beloved train. As the Allen Herschell Company has discontinued the Iron Horse model only a few years after the Zoo purchased the train, replacement parts had become increasingly hard to find. This, combined with long-term wear and tear contributed to problems which required the Zoo to discontinue train rides in late summer of 2007 in the interest of visitor safety. A comprehensive inspection revealed that replacement of the entire train system was needed to ensure the safety and longevity of this cherished Zoo tradition.
The Train Replacement Project was developed to do just that. A major grant from the Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation helped the Zoo raise enough funds to begin accepting bids for the project. In the spring of 2008, Billy’s Contracting rebuilt the track bed and the Crafton Railroad Company, Inc., of Illinois, laid a new track spanning 1,745 feet.
However, with the new track came the decision to remove the trestle, a favorite part of the train ride. In the interest of visitor safety, the trestle area was replaced with a hill at about the same height of the previous trestle. Another effect of removing the track system, was the loss of the tunnel, which was situated on top of the old railroad ties. However, while the trestle is now a part of the past, visitors who missed the tunnel in 2008 will be happy to hear that a new tunnel was constructed. As before, the tunnel serves as overnight and winter storage for the train, but this time around, it has doors at either end to better protect the train from the aging effects of weather.
Another phase of the Train Replacement Project was to replace the train, itself. However, as the current economic situation has diminsihed the level of funding opportunities available, this part of the plan is on hold. In the meantime, the good news is that Scientific Brake has discovered that they can perform a level of refurbishment on our existing train not previously thought possible. Therefore, the existing train will continue chugging around the track, but with less challenges to deal with to keep it going.
The Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square strives to ignite awareness of, excitement in, and concern for animals and the natural world and its conservation in people of all ages.
The Children's Zoo Believes
All life exists within an ecosystem.
Human beings are an intergral part of all ecosystems.
Healthy ecosystems provide many essential services and benefits that sustain and improve human lives.
The human experience requires a connection to nature. These experiences in wild places in our community enrich our lives and inspire our choices for future generations.
Human beings are responsible for dramatic changes to ecosystems at a rate unprecedented in Earth’s history.
We have the responsibility to care for the Earth, to leave healthy ecosystems for our families and future generations.
Through informed actions, we can positively impact ecosystems.
Responsible zoos and aquariums strive to conserve ecosystems and promote care and positive action for the natural world.
The Zoo's Conservation Efforts
Lockey, the Children's Zoo's Hingeback tortoise, has been busy saving his species.
He is currently on loan at Herpetological Resource Management participating in a breeding program, and has made fast friends with a female Hingeback tortoise named Kinixys.
Any baby tortoises hatched through this program will be released into their natural African habitat to help boost the wild population.
- The Children's Zoo is participating in THREE Species Survival Plans (SSP), an AZA breeding program, since our accreditation in 2009.
- The critically endangered Cotton-top tamarins
- The endangered African Black-footed penguins
- The North American river otter
- The Children's Zoo participates in Adopt-A-Highway along the I-675 corridor, preventing roadside waste from polluting the land and local watershed.
- The Rainforest Parking Meter, located between the Capuchin Monkey and Military Macaw exhibits collects change to protect rainforest acres in need.
- Locations of protected forests include Guanacastle Conservation Area, Costa Rica; Kunene Region Protected Area, Namibia; and Komodo National Park, Indonesia.
Fun Conservation Facts
Glass takes more than one million years to decompose (break down and disappear) in our garbage dumps.
By recycling a single aluminum can, we save enough energy to run a television for up to three hours.
Turning the water off while you brush your teeth can save 2 gallons of water a day!
Every year, enough paper is thrown away to make a 12-foot wall from New York to California.
Recycle Roo Program
This program has been developed in collaboration with Mid-Michigan Waste Authority. Recycling stations are located throughout the Zoo in which bottles and cans are collected for recycling. Each station has fun conservation tips. Zoo staff is also working hard with this program to recycle and reduce waste throughout the zoo.
Adopt a Highway
The Children’s Zoo participates in the State of Michigan highway beautification program in which litter is removed from the side of roadways. The Children’s Zoo has maintained a 2.3 mile stretch of northbound and southbound I-75 from M-46-M-81 since January 2007.
Save the Rainforest Donation Meter
Visitors to the Children's Zoo can give donations to help save the rainforest from habitat destruction. All proceeds benefit rainforest conservation through SaveNature.org.
Annual Conservation Events
The Children's Zoo has numerous events throughout the season to promote and educate the public about conservation. These events include but are not limited to: Go Wild! Earth Day Celebration; Birds, Bugs, Butterflies, and Blooms; Reptile Slither; Zooberfest; Zoo Boo; Arctic Zoo Fest.
Aquaponics and Hydroponics
This Children's Zoo is in the process of implementing this program in conjunction with Saginaw Valley State University. Click here for more information.