Meet Victor O’Toole and Brian Rudd, our new land train drivers!
The pair answered our appeal for drivers for our popular red-and-white diesel locomotive, which transports passengers from the base of the zoo to the heart of the 40-acre site in minutes, passing some of the world’s rarest animals on the hilly route along the way!
Since starting at the beginning of July, the popular pair have received great feedback from visitors and even received notable achievement awards in our monthly Employee of the Month scheme.
We hopped aboard Dotto the train to find out how they’ve found their first few months!
What drew you to the Train Driver role?
Vic: My son saw the advert and when I read about it, I thought that had got to be something fun to do and I wasn’t wrong!
Brian: The fact that the job was outside appealed and plus I’ve always wanted to be a train driver, but I never thought it would be a Dudley Zoo!
What did you do previously?
Vic: I was a HGV driver for over 30 years, but I’d had enough of all the roadworks!
Brian: I worked for West Midlands Ambulance Service as a paramedic and fast responder for over 25 years.
How are you finding your new role?
Vic: It’s fantastic! The days go by so quickly and I love talking to and meeting all of the customers. It’s great to see how the children love the train. They’re always waving as we pass and asking for photographs! I’ve even been recognised while out shopping, as I heard someone say I’m the zoo’s train driver!
Brian: I love it, everyone on site is friendly and approachable and have been so welcoming. It’s lovely to get to interact with all the families who use the train and speak to the children, who love the train and will come running up to you and say hello.
What’s your favourite zoo animal?
Vic: I love the camels, I always go and say hello to them before I start and the one always comes over the fence to me, although I’m never quite sure if it just wants to spit at me!
Brian: I love the tigers.
Had you visited DZC before working here?
Vic: I visited when my children were small, but it’s been many, many years ago as the elephants were still here. The zoo has changed so much and I can’t wait to bring my grandchildren on and show them the train!
Brian: I’ve visited quite a few times with my grandchildren, but I hadn’t been for about three years. My grandchildren came on recently and it was lovely to give them a ride on the train.