Spotlight On: Saint Louis Zoo

Posted on Categories Blog

The Saint Louis Zoo has been dedicated to animal and habitat conservation since its establishment in 1910, providing first-rate care to more than 16,000 animals while also supporting wildlife around the world. As a repeat participant in the 2023 St. Louis Green Business Challenge, the Zoo captured the Clean Air Partnership’s attention for its ongoing commitment to making its campus and operations sustainable through outstanding efforts to reduce its environmental footprint and greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural resources.

“Saint Louis Zoo was proud to participate again in the Challenge,” said Wanda Kolo, Director of Sustainable Operations and Construction Management at Saint Louis Zoo. “We value the programming and educational resources curated by the St. Louis Green Business Challenge team. Webinars, in-person events, and peer information sharing is top notch, keeping the Zoo team engaged and up to speed on the great work happening in the region. We are grateful to have such an incredible peer-learning community!”

Over the course of the 2023 Challenge, the Zoo elected to report on its Champion Innovation Project, the debut of its new electric locomotive that was added to the Emerson Zooline Railroad fleet last March. The new electric locomotive brings a positive, long-term environmental impact to the Zoo with lower greenhouse gas emissions and more sustainable resources. Additionally, the new locomotive reduces maintenance requirements and replacement parts as well as costs of operations, like fueling. It also does not emit fumes and reduces noise in the park, improving guests’ overall experience.

The electric train is named after Mary Meachum, an abolitionist in St. Louis who was instrumental in educating Black people, having established a school for free and enslaved Black children and played a critical role in the Underground Railroad. The “Mary Meachum” is the Zoo’s first train named after a woman and can be identified by the green locomotive at the front of the train. The locomotive also features the number 50 on the side, plus a new but recognizable train whistle.

The Zooline Railroad has served more than 41 million people since it opened in 1963. The popular attraction now has a better and greener future thanks to the new electric locomotive, which has been a great source of pride for zoo staff, volunteers and the broader community. And it’s also a win for air quality!

For more information about Saint Louis Zoo and how your organization can get involved in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge, subscribe to the Challenge’s bi-monthly E-Newsletter or visit To learn more about the link between sustainability and air quality, explore the Clean Air Partnership’s website, like us on Facebook or follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, @gatewaycleanair.