Anyone who spots a dinosaur moving or roaring can rest assured they aren’t seeing things – there really is T-Rex in town.
Yes, Aldergrove residents can now journey back to the era of dinosaurs thanks to Greater Vancouver Zoo’s (GVZ) latest attraction – Mesozoic Adventure.
16 brand new dinos from a Stegosaurus to a Triceratops – even a Parasaurolophus – are readying for their debut after staff have been busy assembling the new exhibit for the past few months.
12 of the prehistoric creatures are animatronic, meaning they feast, sway, and roar.
Marketing and education manager Cody Gampe said a company right here in Langley was responsible for crafting the designs.
“The auction that took place here last summer is really what inspired us to look into what was possible,” Gampe recounted.
He said while none of the animatronic dinosaurs that were for sale through Able Auctions last July, there were a surprising amount of companies across the globe that specialize in crafting them.
“Seattle’s Zoo actually just put in a dinosaur exhibit and the Calgary Zoo is currently adding animatronics to their Prehistoric Park – so it’s interesting that all three zoos in the northwest are adding dinosaurs at the same time,” Gampe said.
Plans for the new exhibit began one year ago, which gave Gampe and the team enough time to craft creative scenarios and include more hands out aspects.
Entering through a gigantic mood-setting doorway, guests will follow a trail that will take them past different dinos that are taking part in different family or fight scenes.
Gampe said the heavily wooded area is meant to evoke an adventurous feeling as much of the vegetation resembles what there would have been during the Mesozoic era.
Passionate educational guides will be on-hand to give information to guests while signs will explain details on each dinosaur.
A small museum and gift shop selling posters and souvenirs will also be established.
Across the path is one of the more unique and hands-on components – a massive sandpit where children can use tools to dig up faux dinosaur fossils.
Gampe hinted that there is a lengthy T-Rex and a few smaller dinosaurs buried there, which will be raked and cared for multiple times per day so everyone gets a fair chance to play.
As for the moving animatronics, Gampe explained that they will stand up to every kind of weather and can safely last at least 10 years.
“We’re not sure how long we’ll have Mesozoic Adventure. It will be three to four years for sure and then we’ll reassess,” he explained.
Gampe added that GVZ has been seeing record numbers – a peculiar feat seeing as how COVID-19 limited visitation and all out-of-town tourism was eliminated.
“It’s been record setting for us and the dinosaurs are only going to push that further,” Gampe assured.
General manager Serge Lussier is currently leading the Aldergrove facility through a $20 million, four-phase revamp to turn it into what he calls “the zoo of the future.”
Included in his plan is a safari-style 60 acre cohabitation area and a city of big cats, which will take shape in the course of five years.
Construction is ongoing, with crews putting the finishing touches on a brand new front entrance. A grand opening celebrating the new look will be on tap for the end of summer.
The establishment of Cin City Mini Donuts is the latest change beyond the arrival of the dinosaurs.
Gampe said staff are still putting the final pieces into place, but a soft opening will start as early as Saturday, July 3.
“It’s meant to be educational,” he said, acknowledging B.C.’s lack of known dino activity and fossils. “There are three periods in the Mesozoic Era – Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous – which took place between 65 million to 250 million years. We have dinosaurs representing all of that.”
Following a year-and-a-half of COVID-19 restrictions and reduced hours, the zoo is once again open everyday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
More information can be found online at gvzoo.com.
”It’s becoming a different zoo,” Gampe concluded. “And now that COVID is subsiding, we though that it would be a good opportunity for everyone to come together and see some dinosaurs.
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