Cooper Glaser was having the time of his life exploring some truly exotic animals that have taken up residence at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.
Yes, dinosaurs have come to town, and they probably think they have landed in a strange place. Why are there no leaves on the trees? And why is it snowing?
The exhibit is “Dinosaurs Alive! The Lost Valley,” which is nestled in the grass and trees in an area just northeast of Expedition Madagascar and the Simmons Aviary. Most of the models are near life-size.
Each of the 15 dinos is a different species. They move, blink their eyes, open and close their mouths. And they roar — and they scared some of the excited children getting a preview of the exhibit Thursday.
The kids weren't scared for long. Soon the cold weather was forgotten and most were eagerly scurrying from one bellowing creature to another.
“This is a really good exhibit,” said Cooper, 11, a fifth-grader at Castelar Elementary School. “It's pretty cool. It's also an excellent learning experience for anyone who comes.”
Signs lead the way through the exhibit with information about life millions of years ago, the creatures that roamed the Earth at that time and why they disappeared. Two of the dinosaurs can be controlled by visitors through an interactive panel.
These dinosaurs are lifelike, with the possible exception of the pachycephalosaurus, who looks like he has a giant piece of corn candy on his head. That's actually a large bony dome that housed its tiny brain.
Cooper's favorite was the “weird furry flying dino thing.” He was describing the quetzalcoatlus. Its name means feathered serpent, and it once roamed the area that now makes up Texas and Mexico.
Also on display are the kosmoceratops, triceratops, mojoceratops, ouranosaurus, omeisaurus, parasaurolophus, yangchuanosaurus, spinosaurus, carnotaurus, dyoplosaurus, amargasaurus, tuojiangosaurus and, of course, the tyrannosaurus rex.
The zoo decided to host the exhibit because kids love dinosaurs, said zoo spokeswoman Dawn Ream. “Dinosaurs are fun. The zoo is fun. And we'll take any opportunity to connect people and animals.”
The exhibit was created by Dinosaurs Unearthed, a Canadian company that creates dinosaur experiences for indoor and outdoor venues around the world.
Admission to the special exhibit, which opens today and continues through Oct. 13, will be $3 for zoo members and $4 for non-members. Children 2 and younger will be admitted free.
Dinosaur hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
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