BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Stop by the Maryland Zoo sometime soon and you’ll notice a new fleet of shuttles is now available to cart visitors around the park.

The zoo announced Tuesday it has replaced its diesel-powered shuttles with three all-electric vehicles, a move that will not only save an estimated $30,000 a year in fuel costs but also shrink the zoo’s carbon footprint.

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Visitors arriving at the zoo can hitch a ride on the shuttles at Eagle Gate and then catch a ride back to the entrance from the Naturalist Lodge.

“We are committed to doing our part to reduce adverse environmental impacts on the planet and the species we share it with,” said Maryland Zoo President & CEO Kirby Fowler. “Every step we take to reduce reliance on fossil fuels helps to further our mission while also improving the Zoo environment for both visitors and animals.”

The new vehicles, two 11-passenger shuttles and a 14-passenger shuttle, are packing 12 six-volt batteries, can travel up to 60 miles on a single charge and generate zero emissions.

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In a release, the fleet replacement was billed as the latest in a series of steps the zoo has taken to make the park more sustainable. Other measures include the addition of three electric vehicle charging stations and the elimination of single-use plastics from concession stands.

The electric shuttles were paid for in part by grant funding from the Maryland Department of the Environment’s EPSA Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles said the agency is supportive of the zoo’s switch to all-electric shuttles. Grumbles, who recently returned from the United Nations’ Global Climate Summit, said it was a timely move.

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“Transportation electrification is key to a greener and healthier tomorrow globally and locally,” Grumbles said. “Cleaner air for the zoo’s visitors, employees, animals, and, especially, the many children who enjoy the attractions means a brighter future for all.”

CBS Baltimore Staff