Thursday, 27 July 2017

Zoorassic Park opens at London Zoo

I'm always dubious when zoos announce that their latest exhibit will focus on dinosaurs. There's nothing wrong with dinosaurs, but couldn't that side of things be left to museums while zoos focus on living species and spreading the conservation message?

So despite my enduring love for ZSL and all things they do, I was surprised to learn that their summer special this year would involve dinosaurs - an event going by the name Zoorassic Park. Yet a quick wander through Zoorassic Park at the media launch changed my mind completely.

I went in expecting a few model dinosaurs dotted about the place. Being located in Regent's Park, London Zoo struggles for space at the best of times, so I expected to see the dinos spread throughout the zoo, making the most of the odd patches of space.

However, as with all things ZSL, Zoorasssic Park is carried off very well. Designed as an immersive exhibit, visitors pick up their Time Travel Passport before entering the Time Tunnel and emerging face to face with animatronic dinosaurs.

Each of the eight species represented are animated - albeit in a very '90s way - bringing them to life for kids (and big kids). Most of them make noises, and one even spits water (look out for the puddle in the sand, and don't stand in that spot).

An information plaque next to each of the dinosaurs tells you all about them - when and where they lived, what they ate - exactly as with the zoo's living species.

Once you've seen all the dinosaurs, a further Time Tunnel transports visitors forward to the year 2050, a time when plenty of species we're familiar with today - giant pandas and Sumatran tigers, for example - have become extinct, in the same way that the dinosaurs did. For me, this is the highlight of Zoorassic Park, because it cleverly ties in ZSL's omnipresent conservation message with a real, tangible example that people can get their heads round. It's an excellent example of when using dinosaurs among living animals works brilliantly.

 Here's a video I made about Zoorassic Park for Londonist:

Zoorassic Park is at ZSL London Zoo until 3 September 2017. Entry is included in regular zoo admission. It's worth booking zoo entry in advance during the school holidays as queues can get quite long.

Scribbling Lau is now on Facebook. You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram.

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