The monorail system at Zoo Miami opened during the zoo’s second season, when the zoo was called Miami MetroZoo. Universal Mobility, Inc. (UMI), manufactured this system with a second company, Budd Company of Detroit, Michigan.
In 1980, Miami MetroZoo purchased a $13.5 million dollar Tourister system from UMI. This system was scheduled to be opened during the zoo’s second year of operation. The system featured four stations with several monorail trains of nine cars each. The system was 2.2 miles long.
Monorail opened on December 4, 1982, just about a year and a quarter after the zoo opened.
The system has been updated, and the zoo purchased parts of UMI’s last monorail system, which operated in the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans.
This was not the only project UMI did for Zoo Miami – the zoo also bought a set of trams UMI marketed as Unitram. Unfortunately, on the day of the zoo’s grand opening, one of the tram’s engines caught on fire and was destroyed. Nobody was harmed in the incident, though it scared a gorilla which was nearby at the time.
That’s it for the Monorail at Zoo Miami. This is the youngest UMI system that remains in operation today, and the only one remaining built in the 1980s. Next time we’ll take a look at the last monorail system Universal Mobility built, which was at the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition.