Train for special needs children coming to Saginaw Children's Zo - WNEM TV 5

Train for special needs children coming to Saginaw Children's Zoo

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A Mid-Michigan zoo is on track for turning this summer into a joyous ride for everyone with a newly outfitted train that accommodates even visitors in wheelchairs.

Workers are putting the finishing touches on a train car bound for the Children’s Zoo.

The J.M. Zeile Coach is named after Jan Zeile, the wife of Lou Zeile.

Jan passed away last April after a lifetime of teaching special needs adults and children.

“It’s just a heartwarming experience for me to experience and I just wish Jan were here to be a part of it,” said Lou Zeile.

The Zeile’s sons, Kim and Kurt, say the car will also be a tribute to their brother Kevin who was confined to a wheelchair.

“Kevin likewise would be overjoyed with the accessibility to everything that goes on at the zoo,” said Kurt Zeile.

Gary Hochtanner said a lot of folks donated money for $300,000 worth of upgrades at the zoo.

“Not only are we getting handicap-accessibility to the train, we’re adding two cars to our train, we’re also repainting the entire train, all four cars and our locomotive,” Hochtanner said.

Zoo officials found a car in Pennsylvania and workers will soon make it easy for those confined to wheelchairs to get on board. 

“We’re going to have a ramp that’s going to be in here that’ll drop down,” Hochtanner said.

The Saginaw Society of Crippled Children, which was created by philanthropist Guy S. Garber last century, was also instrumental in the wheelchair accessibility project.  

The train and the revamped cars will be unveiled at the Saginaw Children’s Zoo in Mid-June.

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