Over the summer the zoo was one of my family's frequent stops. We received a family membership for Christmas, so we got our money's worth by making bi-weekly stops to visit the gorillas that may or may not eat their own feces depending on their mood, the Gila Monsters my son caught "sexing" one hot afternoon in the Herpaquarium, and of course the elephants that never cease to mesmerize us all. Since May, however, I have put off the Dinosaur! exhibit that beckons my children from the hill just from pure exhaustion. After snaking my way down to the splash park, there's generally not enough of me left, but this Labor Day weekend, we conquered the dinosaurs.
At the bottom of the hill, near the new seals and sea-lions exhibit, is the entry to the interactive dinosaur haven. Our family ventured (after paying the extra $4.00 a head for zoo members, $5.00 for non-members) up a curvy, gravel path nestled among delightfully shady trees and were greeted with a menagerie of synthetic, computerized dinosaur replicas. The brachiosaurus that guarded the strategically placed gift shop growled (or whatever you call that) as we walked by and began a host of arm, neck, and eye movements characteristic of the dinosaur robots. We next met a stegosaurus-like mother and child, a something-er-other-opolis looming over her hatching eggs, and a band of vicious carnivores tearing the flesh from a bloody carcass. Each moves and roars as you pass.
For the most part, the feel of the exhibit was eerie, yet pretty cool. My kids, 3 and 6, loved every minute of it--even wished there were more to see as we exited the path. The exhibit is worth the money if you have children 3-9, maybe 10. The older kids or young, childless couples I saw seemed disappointed; the little kids left crying. One even said from his dad's arms, "I'm ready for the little dinosaurs," a look of terror across his face.
The Dinosaurs! exhibit ends October 15th, so don't miss it, especially as the weather begins to cool. Otherwise, be sure to visit the seals and sea-lion exhibit that opened this summer. A huge improvement from the cement hole in the middle of the zoo I grew up with, there were six seals and sea-lions frolicking in their new salt-water home today. Demonstrations ran throughout the day informing crowds of their species and training protocol. Lots to do at the zoo.