Lurking impatiently in a once off-limits corner of the Los Angeles Zoo, a ferocious pack of 17 life-size, life-like prehistoric creatures await the opening of DINOSAURS: UNEXTINCT AT THE L.A. ZOO, a spectacular, all-new exhibit, on April 15, 2016. For a limited time only, these animatronic dinosaurs, brought to life with electronic “brains,” will take visitors back in time for a colossal adventure, providing a rare chance to discover a lost world from millions upon millions of years ago while warning about the very real threat of extinction faced today by many endangered species.
Among the exhibit’s added features is a Fossil Dig, a Stegosaurus robot with controls guests can operate to make the creature move; a climbable Pachyrhinosaurus; and a free downloadable augmented reality app to access special content, including 3-D views of all the dinosaurs. The experience promises gargantuan levels of awe, as well as plenty of “aha”s, with fascinating facts about the prehistoric era, the featured dinosaurs and their similarities to L.A. Zoo animals. Best of all, entry to Dinosaurs: Unextinct at the L.A. Zoo (#DinosAtTheLAZoo) is just $5 per person in addition to regular Zoo admission, and free for wee ones under age two.
See image: TRex photo by Jamie Pham
Guests embark on this must-see, self-guided stroll along a trail through lush landscaping with foliage similar to the earliest known trees and plants at the time dinosaurs roamed the earth, among them ferns, cycads, conifers and ginkos. The exhibit represents a staggering array of dinosaur anatomic shapes and sizes, ranging in heights up to almost 22 feet, lengths of just over 21 feet and weights topping 6,700 pounds, from locations around the earth and geological eras spanning 65 to 200 million years ago. Visits with the creatures, all boasting an extensive range of motion in a manner experts believe the animals would actually have moved, begin with a Suchomimus, complete with a fierce crocodile-like mouth, from the Cretaceous period some 110 million years ago, followed by a Brachiosaurus, from the Jurassic period 156 million years ago, whose 18-foot-long neck required a gigantic heart to pump blood up to the top. Next, guests encounter two Coelophysis dinosaurs, from the Triassic period 210 million years ago; a Citipati from the late Cretaceous period, which used its feathers to protect and warm its eggs, just like modern-day birds do; and a Carnotaurus, a bipedal carnivore covered in small scales and bony lumps from the late Cretaceous period. More dinosaurs include an Edmontonia, an herbivore with heavy body armor to defend itself, from the late Cretaceous period; the iconic Triceratops from the Cretaceous period 72 million years ago; and a Utahraptor, the alpha predator of the early Cretaceous period 124 million years ago, whose most unique feature was an extra-long, sickle-shaped claw on the second digit of each foot used to pin down and tear apart prey. Dinosaur families are represented by a Dilophosaurus and baby Dilophosaurus, fast moving bipedal carnivores from the Jurassic period 201 million years ago; and a Diabloceratops, its baby and a Diabloceratops nest, representative of the dinosaur from the late Cretaceous whose name means – and aptly describes – its “devil-horned face. Finally, no remarkable dinosaur exhibit would be complete without a Tyrannosaurus, better known as a T-Rex, one of the largest and most powerful dinosaurs, from the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago.
Along the way, visitors encounter a Fossil Dig where they can brush away sand to uncover “bones” made from a fiberglass mold taken from an actual juvenile Maiasaura fossil, a large, herbivorous hadrosaurid that lived in the area currently covered by Montana during the upper Cretaceous period about 76 million years ago. Other “don’t-miss” fun includes a stop at a Stegosaurus robot with controls guests can operate to make the creature move, and a hashtag-worthy, dino-size photo op featuring a Pachyrhinosaurus, a dramatic-looking cousin of the Triceratops, with massive flattened growths over its nose.
Accompanying the exhibit is a free downloadable “Dinosaurs: Unextinct at the L.A. Zoo” augmented reality app providing an opportunity to interact up-close with each dinosaur by “unlocking” an animated model when pointing a digital device at a target image. Users can animate the dinosaur on their screen, making it walk and run. Included in the AR app is a dino quiz, where visitors can test their dino knowledge. After completing the quiz, visitors are rewarded with a small gift at the dino gift shop. The app also features fact sheets and a bonus AR animal: the California Condor, a species that the L.A. Zoo is helping bring back from the brink of extinction, a process that guests can learn more about at the interactive California Condor Rescue Zone indoor learning space, which is adjacent to the dinosaur exhibit and open every weekend plus weekdays throughout the summer. (Check www.lazoo.org for schedule.)
See image: Coelophysis, photo by Jamie Pham
The dinosaurs for the Los Angeles Zoo’s exhibit are provided by Billings Productions, one of only a handful of companies in the world that produce life-size, animatronic dinosaurs based on today’s best science for traveling and permanent exhibits.
Programming subject to change. Friday, April 15 through October 31, 2016, 10 am to 4 pm; Admission to the Los Angeles Zoo is $20 for general admission (ages 13 to 61); $17 for seniors (ages 62+), and $15 for children (ages 2 to 12), and admission for Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association members is free. Admission to Dinosaurs: Unextinct at the L.A. Zoo is $5 per person in addition to regular Zoo admission; tickets are available online at lazoo.org/dinos and in person inside the Zoo at the Dinosaurs exhibit entry area. Children under age two are admitted free to the Zoo and to the Dinosaurs exhibit.
The Los Angeles Zoo is located at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways in Griffith Park. 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Free parking is available. For tickets and additional information, contact (323) 644-6001 or visit lazoo.org/dinos #DinosAtTheLAZoo