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Santa Ana Zoofari Express Train Trip 10/11/2016

by Chris Guenzler

I worked my job at Heninger Elementary School in Santa Ana and once I was finished, drove to Prentice Park in Santa Ana and paid to get inside. I walked to the train station, paid for my ticket then waited for the train to return to the station.

Santa Ana Zoo Visitor information

The Santa Ana Zoo is located at 1801 East Chestnut Avenue in Santa Ana, California. The zoo is open daily, except for Christmas Day, New Years Day and Thanksgiving Day. The hours of operation are 10 am to 4 pm daily but guests may remain in the zoo until 5 pm. During the summer, weekend hours are extended from 10 am to 6 pm.


The property where the zoo sits today went through the ownership of several people during the early 1900s. After the property was foreclosed in 1929 and 1931, Joseph Edward Prentice bought the 19.23-acre site. He donated 16 acres to the city of Santa Ana in 1949 and stipulated that the zoo have at least fifty monkeys at all times. Construction of the zoo began that year, and it opened on March 8, 1952. A children's zoo was soon built and the Flight Aviary, now known as the Jack Lynch Aviary, was completed in 1962. In 1983, the amphitheater was completed and the zoo gained AZA accreditation. The 1990s had three major events: in 1990, the Flight Aviary was upgraded and renamed the Jack Lynch Aviary; Amazon's Edge opened in 1992; and Colors of the Amazon Aviary opened in 1996. In the 2000s, the Zoofari Express Train Ride opened in 2000, Crean Family Farm opened in 2004, and Tierra de las Pampas opened in 2010.


Tierra De Las Pampa

In April 2010, Santa Ana Zoo opened a new exhibit, Tierra de las Pampas or "Land of the Grasses." It is the first in a series of new exhibits. Covering 2 acres, Tierra de las Pampas houses giant anteaters in one exhibit, and greater rheas and guanacos in the larger one, with a footpath between them.

Rainforest Exhibit

The Rainforest Exhibit is a small exhibit that represents the Amazon, home to white-faced saki monkeys and green iguanas.

Amazon's Edge

Colors of the Amazon Aviary

The 9,000-square-foot Colors of the Amazon Aviary opened on August 1, 1996. This walk-through aviary displays a variety of South American birds in a lushly planted habitat with meandering streams.

Crean Family Farm

Crean Family Farm opened in July 2004 and focuses on rare breeds of farm animals. The centerpiece of the complex is a two-story red barn which houses the larger species.

Ocelot Basin

Ocelot Basin is home to a breeding pair of Brazilian Ocelots located in two separate habitats. Interactive elements include a research canopy blind, sand table and a children's den.

Other attractions

One of the most popular attractions at the Santa Ana Zoo is the Zoofari Express children's train. There are two engines: 1030 and 1036. Both are 14 gauge, 4-4-4 configuration locomotives. The original 1030 engine was constructed in 1954 by the Hurlbut Amusement Company of Buena Park. Engine 1030 was originally installed at Santa's Village in Sky Forest, California. It operated there continuously for 44 years. When Santa's Village closed in 1998, the Friends of Santa Ana Zoo purchased the entire train and 660 feet of original track. The train was then restored by volunteers from Mater Dei High School with the help of Bud Hurlbut. The restored train opened at the Santa Ana Zoo in the spring of 1999. The track length was expanded to 1,850 feet. Engine 1030 was gas-powered, but in 2006 was converted to electric power. Engine 1036 is a new electric-powered locomotive that was installed in 2005, along with new passenger cars.

The zoo also features a Conservation Carousel with a 33 animal line-up including the giraffe, giant panda, African elephant, cheetah, hummingbird, lowland gorilla, bald eagle, jaguar, zebra, Bengal tiger, sea otter, panther, seal, sea dragon and a custom-made anteater. The carousel also features a wheelchair-accessible Swan Chariot.

My Train Ride

I saw the train returning to the station area.

The train pulled into the station and then the other passengers detrained and exited.

I boarded my car for my first ride on the train here in my own hometown.

The board at the station. With a toot of the horn we started our journey around the zoo.

The train took the first curve on the railroad.

A look back to the station area.

The human bubble machine.

The Crean Family Farm red barn.

The train is running along the west side of the Santa Ana Zoo.

The stable building at the Crean Family Farm.

The rear of the Crean Family Farm red barn.

The McCormick Farmall tractor.

Goats at the Crean Family Farm.

The train took another curve on this unique railroad.

Another tractor and plow.

Heading to the tunnel. also known as the storage shed for this train set. The second train here is in the other part of the shed.

Into the tunnel we went.

We went through the tunnel on this railroad.

Next we will run along the Tierra de las Pampas or "Land of the Grasses."

Animals of the Tierra de las Pampas or "Land of the Grasses."

This is part of Boo at the Zoo.

The train took a left hand curve.

The train took a right hand curve.

All too soon, we were returning into the station. I thanked the crew then walked to a good photo location to catch the next trip of the train at this spot.

The animals keep me entertained while I waited for the train to arrive.

The train passed my photo location.

On my way out I shot from the Bank of the Amazon. I walked to my car and left the Santa Ana Zoo a very happy train rider.