Dublin Zoo: 12 metre T-rex among ‘Zoorasic World’ stars

Combining dinosaurs of past and reptiles from present brings ‘fantastic story about evolution’

Zoorasic World, a new exhibit at Dublin Zoo, combines dinosaurs of the past with reptiles from the present to tell a "fantastic story about evolution".

 

Elephants have some competition when it comes to being the largest animal on display at Dublin Zoo. The zoo’s latest addition is a 12 metre-long model Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton which lived on Earth 65 million years ago , part of the new ‘Zoorassic World’ dinosaur and reptile exhibit which opens on Friday.

The new section also features a replica velociraptor skeleton and other dinosaur fossil exhibits, alongside the zoo’s modern day reptiles.

Live animals on display in the new exhibit include a West African crocodile, pythons, forest dragons, chameleons, turtles, and geckos. The reptiles have all been given expanded enclosures compared to the zoo’s older reptile room. The exhibit will be open to the public from Friday July 7th, at the height of the summer visitor season.

The building housing the reptiles and fossils was originally built in 1902, and cost €4 million to restore.

The exhibit has plenty of interactive features for children, including a mock archaeological fossil finding sand pit, and educational information about the process of evolution and the work of famous biologist Charles Darwin.

Garth de Jong, zookeeper and team leader at Dublin Zoo said he expected the addition to the Phoenix Park zoo to be very popular with children.

The large T-rex model was cast from a fossil of the dinosaur discovered by palaeontologists in South Dakota, in America he explained. “This replica was actually cast from the real fossil, so this is as accurate a representation of a T-rex skeleton as you’re going to get, really monstrous.”

“I think dinosaurs are so popular with kids, I think this will be a real hit” he said.

Mr de Jong said Dublin Zoo’s reptiles have adapted well to their new homes. “Behind the scenes there’s a lot of technology, planning, and thought that goes into managing these guy’s environments. We’ve got a state of the art ‘misting’ system that provides freshly collected rainwater into the habitats four times a day” he said.

“The modelling of the habitats itself simulates the areas that they would be found in naturally. We’ve incorporated loads of live plants, the soil on the ground is loaded with little bugs, so it’s a very biological ecosystem inside these habitats” he said.

Director of Dublin Zoo Leo Oosterweghel said “our goal is to inspire and educate visitors on the fascinating world of reptiles.”

“We thought - what if you looked back in time to the period of dinosaurs and reptiles of the past, and reptiles from the present - and then combined the two. You would have a fantastic story about evolution, so that’s what we’ve done” he explained.

“The opening of Zoorasic World is another milestone on our journey to continue to develop Dublin Zoo into a world class zoo and provide an excellent visitor experience” Mr Oosterweghel said.