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Birmingham Zoo reveals new electric train

If you have ever visited the Birmingham Zoo, you know that one of the unique features is the train ride that winds around the 120+ acre facility. As a child, it offers a unique viewing opportunity of the zoo and the excitement of riding a train.

On Saturday, the new version of this timeless piece of nostalgia was unveiled with an upgrade.

The new Red Diamond Express locomotive, named “Tea,” is 100% electric. Tea is the second train Red Diamond Coffee & Tea has provided to the zoo.

Per a news release, the new locomotive has some of the following features:

• The lithium-ion battery-powered model produces zero emissions and has no fuel costs, reducing the carbon footprint.
• An integrated audiovisual program presents educational messages, conservation information and animal facts for the duration of the ride.
• An audio system mimics the sounds of a steam engine train; this is necessary because the electric train doesn’t make detectable noise.
• Capable of supporting one wheelchair passenger + 52 adults + 26 children or 104 smaller children (four per bench seat).

The original donated train in 2008 from Red Diamond, “Coffee,” has been retrofitted to match the same AV features of “Tea.”

Emily Wood Bowron, Red Diamond’s vice president of Strategic Marketing said in a statement, “This state-of-the-art, electric, battery-powered train arrived just in time for summer and provides guests with a panoramic view of the zoo while offering animal facts, conservation info and educational messages through new, integrated audiovisual technology.”

The train is American-made by Chance Rides in Wichita, Kansas, and took 32 weeks total to complete.

Red Diamond is a Birmingham-based, family-owned company with a 100-year history in Alabama.

William A. Bowron, Jr., chairman, president and chief executive, Red Diamond Coffee & Tea, stated, “[W]e strive to make a lasting impact in all that we do from both a business and community standpoint. This new train will bring incredible technological and educational advances to the Birmingham Zoo’s offerings for guests of all ages. There is nothing more rewarding than friends and families making memories on the Red Diamond Express.”

Birmingham Zoo president and CEO Chris Pfefferkorn expressed gratitude to Red Diamond for its donation.

“We couldn’t do what we do without partners like Red Diamond Coffee & Tea,” Pfefferkorn emphasized. “As a non-profit, we count on investments like this from our community to ensure our guests have the most enjoyable and impactful experiences possible relating to wild animals and wild places. We’re especially eager to continue enhancing our Zoo with environmentally friendly additions like this beautiful, new train, helping us live out our Mission: Inspiring Passion to Conserve the Natural World.”