Sure, who doesn’t love a trip to the zoo? Animals ranging from scaly to fuzzy and teeny-tiny to, well, elephant-sized, lazing around every corner . . . what’s not to love? With so many intriguing permanent residents, hands-on exhibits and daily activities, you probably can’t imagine that Brookfield Zoo could get any better.  Oh, but it just did!  Read on to hear how animatronic dinosaurs and their mythical dragon friends are roaring to life at the zoo.

What can you expect to see?
The zoo’s new temporary exhibit, Dinos & Dragons, will feature both indoor and outdoor experiences.

Outside, you’ll find 17 animatronic creatures, including Stegosaurs, Apatosaurus, Pteranodon, Triceratops, T-Rex and Chinese Dragon.  Meander along the winding path to find colorful signage that introduces paleo-lovers to each of of the animatronics that represent inhabitants from a time long gone. From the late Jurassic period 150 million years ago to the Late Cretaceous Period 85-75 million years ago, you’ll discover extraordinary facts about each one.

The fun gets silly with Game of Bones, which are parodies based on popular games shows, such as DINOPARDY, Are You Smarter Than a Paleontologist? and Dino Feud, which allow visitors to test their dino and dragon knowledge. A replication of a Paleontologist Excavation Site and the Dinosaur Dissection Lab, where littles can dissect realistic looking dino body parts made of non-latex materials, make kids feel like real scientists for the day.

photo: Crocodile Monitor

Take the entourage inside to find intricately designed dragon-themed areas and to visit with live reptiles, including a 6-foot Komodo Dragon seen for the first time ever at the zoo. The indoor interactive, hands-on fun includes temporary tattoos, a dragon texture rubbing project, photo opps, a dig box with realistic-looking dino bones and fossils, a castle backdrop to put on a puppet show and a mini catapult kids can load and release.

photo: Frilled Dragon

The zoo is pretty expansive, where do I find this exhibit?
When you have eager kids clambering to get their eyes and hands on a specific exhibit, you want to know exactly where to set your internal GPS. We get it. The Dinos and Dragons have made their home in the southeast quadrant of the zoo, between the Hamill Family Wild Encounters and BZ Red Hots.

How long will Brookfield Zoo play host to these intriguing house-beasts?
Move-in day is May 6 and they’ll stick around to play all summer long before wearing out their welcome September 17, undoubtedly skipping town before the cold moves in.

Photo: Brookfield Zoo Summer Nights

What else does Brookfield Zoo have on the agenda this spring and summer?
Up next is the Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch, Sunday, May 14, where mom gets the day off from kitchen duty and the zoo’s executive chef does all the work. Moms will enjoy a delicious brunch featuring cooked to order eggs and an omelet station, a chef’s carving station, sweet treats and more.  Seatings are at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. and the cost is $41.95/adult and $31.95/ages 3-11.

A warm weather favorite is back for it’s 4th year, Summer Nights, featuring an enhanced dining, beer and wine garden, live music, roaming performers, kid entertainment and a new laser show all surrounded by wildlife and nature (and in the cooler temps of evening!). Summer Nights is scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m.-9 p.m., June 16-17, 23-24, 30-July 1, July 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, August 4-5, 11-12.

Brookfield Zoo is throwing a shindig to celebrate Dad in The Pavilion Park for Father’s Day, Sunday, June 18, noon-2 p.m.,  Take pops for a noontime bbq with an all-you-can-eat buffet and groove to an interactive DJ.  The cost is $41.95/adult, $31.95/ages 3-11 and no charge for ages 2 and under.

And one more thing, just for the adults, is the Zoo Brew held in the East Mall, August 25 and 26.  Enjoy lagers alongside lions and cheers your beer next to the bears at this one-of-a-kind 21 and over beer tasting event featuring over 80 beers. General admission is $55 ($35 for designated driver) and $85 for VIP admission ($45 for VIP designated driver).

Dinos & Dragons Exhibit
Cost: $5/adults, $3/ages 3-11 for Dinos & Dragons exhibit (half off admission for members); General admission $19.85/adults, $14.50/ages 3-11
Brookfield Zoo
3300 Golf Rd.
Brookfield
Online: czs.org

Do you have plans to see Dinos & Dragons? We’d love to hear about your experience in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers

Photos courtesy of Brookfield Zoo