WHEELING - Those planning to ride the train at Oglebay Park's Good Zoo beware: Tyrannosaurus Rex and his friends may be lurking just around the next turn!
"Everybody loves it and when they look in those dinosaurs' eyes, it is like, 'Wow!'" Vickie Markey-Tekely, curator of education for the Good Zoo, said.
She said the five life-sized, robotic beasts - a large Styracosaurus and a baby Dilophosaurus, a juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Deltadromeus and a Parasaurolophus - have been very well received by visitors over the summer.
Oglebay Good Zoo patrons look at the Deltadromeus display that is positioned over the park's waterfall. -- Scott McCloskey
Markey-Tekely said each prehistoric creature is built on a metal frame and attached to an air compressor. They have foam bodies and rubber-like skin.
The Parasaurolophus is a non-robotic display in a separate section of the park, where children have the opportunity to sit on it or take pictures with it.
"The dinosaurs are fitted with an electronic brain, so they move and roar and can be discovered in the woods near the Australian Exhibit," said Penny Miller, zoo director.
She said the entire zoo staff worked with a paleontologist who is knowledgeable about the dinosaurs on display so they would be prepared to pass along information to zoo visitors.
Kieran Krahel of Senecaville, Ohio, said he found the Dilophosaurus most interesting because it has "a lot built into it" and "it shoots stuff out of it." Markey-Tekely said while there is "no science behind it," the Dilophosaurus was fitted to spit, much like the dinosaurs did in the 1993 film "Jurassic Park" to add an extra element of surprise.
Kristen DeCarlo of Dallas said she has brought her two sons to see the robotic display several times over the summer. She termed the display "pretty cool."
The Styracosaurus, whose name means "Spiked Lizard," was found in North America and Asia during the late Cretaceous period. This species had six large spikes coming from the large frill on the back of its head, two horns on the upper mouth and one horn on the nose. Miller said the Styracosaurus functioned ecologically like today's rhinoceros.
The Dilophosaurus, whose name means "two-ridged lizard" was 20 feet long and about 6 feet tall. It was a medium sized, fish-eating dinosaur that scavenged.
Tyrannosaurus Rex, or T-Rex, means "tyrant lizard king." It is one of the most recognizable dinosaur species and one of the largest land carnivores. A full-grown T-Rex was 40 feet long and 13 feet tall.
"Many thought that the T-Rex was an active hunter, but evidence supports the hypothesis that they were mostly scavengers," said Miller.
Because T-Rex was one of the most recent dinosaurs to go extinct, its bones were well-preserved and a great deal is known about it.
The Parasaurolophus, whose name means "Near Crested Lizard," was an herbivore that walked on four legs to forage for food and ran on two legs. Parasaurolophus had a beak-like mouth for breaking down grasses, and they ate in groups to avoid predators, functioning ecologically the way a herd of gazelles today.
The Deltadromeus, whose name means "River Runner" is positioned at the top of the wetlands waterfall for his prehistoric perch for the summer, according to Miller. Deltadromeus was also a carnivore that walked on two legs and was about 30 feet long.
The zoo is currently open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, and there is an admission charge. Additional information on the Good Zoo and dinosaur-themed summer camps can be found at www.oglebay-resort.com/goodzoo. The last day for the exhibit is Labor Day, Sept. 2.