Dinosaurs and the animals at Brookfield Zoo may not seem to go together, but an exhibit that opens Saturday at the zoo will help visitors understand the link between prehistoric and modern animals.
Dinosaurs Alive! features a winding trail through the zoo with 24 life-size animatronic prehistoric creatures that roar, move and thrash their tails. Shantungosaurus-the largest dinosaur to walk on two legs-stands at more than 20 feet tall and 50 feet long. In addition, the exhibit has a tent filled with the most recent paleontological findings that birds evolved from dinosaurs. The dino dig in the tent area lets kids dig through sand to find the bones buried below.
"We're incorporating feathered dinosaurs, so visitors can understand the link between modern day birds," says Andre Copeland, interpretive programs manager at the zoo. "The feathered dinosaurs are going to be in a 5,000-square-foot tent and within this tent, there will be fossils to see, raptor talons, fossils that proved dinosaurs actually had feathers, and information on how scientists find this out."
And, while the exhibits are educational, there's also an element of fun mixed in, Copeland says.
"We kind of spoofed how you might see dinosaurs if they were still alive and in some of the tabloids, how TMZ or Discovery Kids might report this," he says. "The factual information will be sound, but these message points might connect more with teens and young adults."
Although the dinos are large and the roars loud, the exhibit isn't scary and should appeal to even young children.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.