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There are plenty of other jobs at a zoo - like train driver...

Say “Morwenna Smith” to someone at Paignton Zoo and they will look blank. Say “Mo” and they’ll light up with recognition. Mo is the ever-cheerful driver of the Zoo’s miniature train.

The Paignton Zoo Narrow Gauge Railway (or Jungle Express) carries over 100,000 visitors each year. The ten and a quarter inch gauge tracks run for a third of a mile around the lake. The little engine - a reproduction of a British Rail Class 37 - clocks up over 80 miles a week during the summer and over 2,000 miles in a season.

Mo grew up in Torquay and went to school in Newton Abbot. Her job means looking after every aspect of the train, from walking the track each morning to checking oil, water and fuel levels.

She has been the train driver for 11 years. “I began at the Zoo as a seasonal first aider – I’m still qualified – but the driver at the time was looking for an assistant. I started helping out, taking tickets, that sort of thing. He taught me to drive the train – it took a couple of weeks. It’s not like a car - there’s no steering wheel and no pedals. You have a gear lever and air brakes. You have to watch the track and look out for stones, small children, animals – peafowl and geese are the main hazards!”

In the winter she doubles up as a painter and decorator. And when she’s not driving the Zoo train, Mo enjoys cycling and watching her beloved Torquay United.

“The best bit of the job is meeting people - children are great! It’s important, because we’re raising money for the charity and the train is famous!” And the best thing about living in the West Country? “The beautiful beaches – and a great zoo!”

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