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Choo choo!

Meet the Zoo's lead train driver, Greg Gensen.

January 31, 2018 - As you walk through the zoo, listen for the chug-chug of an approaching narrow-gauge train. Look onboard and you might catch a glimpse of Greg Gensen enthusiastically educating visitors about what they’re seeing.

Gensen, like the other train drivers, dons overalls. He’s the one with the long, white beard sporting a black cowboy hat and a big smile.

He has been lead train driver at the zoo for five years. A retired aircraft machinist and taxidermy business owner, Gensen said driving the trains is his “fun job.”

“I love the zoo. We have great keepers, maintenance—everyone’s great. It’s fun,” he said. “It’s like a big family here.”

Greg sitting in a train at the Zoo.He said his favorite part of the job is meeting new people.

“They all love the trains, from the little babies to the grandpas,” Gensen said.  “I love getting to see the smiles on everyone’s faces.”

Gensen said that while some people are riding for the first time, he has about 100 repeat customers, including one man who brings his grandson three times a week.

He recounted a story about a little girl who waved to the prairie dogs as the train rolled by. One of the prairie dogs appeared to “wave” back, which caused the train passengers to go wild. “The whole train just lost it,” he said.

He also recalled the story of a little boy who wanted to ride the train eight times in a row for his birthday—his mother rode the train for six hours straight to fulfill his wish.

Driving the train has afforded Gensen the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, from Mexico to Sweden, China, Japan and France.

“I’m probably in pictures all over the world,” he joked. “It’s just great. Everyone wants a photo with the train.”

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About the BioPark Trains

The Zoo train (Thunderbird Express) first started running in 2005 and the Tingley Trains (Rio Line) began in 2006. “The Thunderbird Express is a great experience when visiting the zoo,” said Shannon Ellefson, program and activities manager for the New Mexico BioPark Society. “It gives the riders a behind the scenes look at the zoo and lots of great information on our animals and the facility.” Learn more about the trains here.