Eek! Our Face-to-Face with the Dinosaurs at Jacksonville Zoo’s DinoTrek

Who would ever think this 27-foot-long Deltadromeus could blend into the scenery until he was close enough to pounce on you?!

Who would ever think this 27-foot-long Deltadromeus could blend into the scenery until he was close enough to pounce on you?!

I never would have expected life-sized dinosaurs to be able to hide in the scenery, especially when I was looking for them.

But the dinosaurs at Jacksonville Zoo and Garden’s DinoTrek blend into their “habitat” so well, my family often didn’t spot them until they were just a few feet away as we toured the amazing exhibit recently. It gives you an eerie idea of how easily T-Rex could hunt down his prey in the Jurassic Era.

The special exhibit, open through June 30, includes 21 life-size, animatronic dinosaurs. For a small fee — $3 to $3.50 depending on whether you’re a zoo member — you enter DinoTrek via a floating dock near the Trout River Lodge. Dinosaurs beckon you from the other side, roaring and turning their heads from side to side.

This Styracosaurus lived right here in the United States during the Late Cretaceous period.

This Styracosaurus lived right here in the United States during the Late Cretaceous period.

When we began to walk through the exhibit, my 4-year-old son got a little nervous. My 2-year-old daughter was convinced these dinos were real.

The dinosaurs are placed in the woods and brush throughout the exhibit. There are no fences or gates separating them from visitors, so you can get really close to them. My son gamely posed in front of several of the dinosaurs, but he wasn’t going anywhere NEAR the ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex. Fittingly, the king of the dinosaurs was the most intimidating of all. He looked ready to pounce, and his roar was mighty.

T-Rex was the most ferocious dinosaur in the display. Our little guy wouldn't get near it for a picture.

T-Rex was the most ferocious dinosaur in the display. Our little guy wouldn’t get near it for a picture.

The special exhibit also includes features for kids to explore, include a fort-like play area and a fossil dig.

My kids loved it, especially when we were done, and they could think back to how, just maybe, it wasn’t so scary after all. My daughter, who’s especially in love with the zoo, has been telling everyone the dinosaurs are her favorite “animals” there. It’s a fabulous exhibit, and a must-see for any child interested in dinosaurs.

Kids play archaeologist in the fossil dig sandbox.

Kids play archaeologist in the fossil dig sandbox.

If you want to go:

When: Open during regular zoo hours (9am-5pm) through June 30, 2013.

Price: $3.50 per-person, or $3 for zoo members.

Where: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, 370 Zoo Parkway, Jacksonville, FL

For more information: Visit the zoo’s special DinoTrek website, which includes pictures and facts about all the dinosaurs, at dinotrekjaxzoo.org.

 

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