Every wondered what it was like when dinosaurs roamed the earth?
If so, you can get a glimpse at Brookgreen Gardens this spring.
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The sculpture garden and wildlife preserve located in Murrells Inlet is in the midst of displaying “Dinosaurs!,” an exhibit that uses animatronic dinosaurs to bring a life-like experience similar to when the large beasts inhabited earth.
“It’s just really cool. I’ve talked to adults who have been, not even bringing kids, and they’re like ‘that was really cool,’” said Lauren Joseph, Director of Marketing for Brookgreen Gardens. “And kids, of course, they just love it.”
The exhibit includes 17 animatronic dinosaurs whose sensors in various parts of their body – such as their eyes, head, arms or tail – activate when guests pass by.
The exhibit also has a paleontologist excavation site that features a replica paleontologist campsite that displays how they uncover dinosaur specimen, and is accompanied by an area in which children can uncover “fossils” of their own.
“At the end we have a little dig pit, too, where kids can kind of get in there and pretend that they’re excavating fossils themselves,” Joseph said. “And there’s also some dino games over around the dig pit, like some different kind of game show kind of things that folks can do and answer dinosaur questions.”
There are also colorful graphics that introduce guests to each of the animatronics by way of facts about each species. Overall, those who visit will learn about the dinosaurs while also walking away with a “life-like” experience, Joseph said.
“They’re going to walk around this kind of dinosaur garden that we have here at Brookgreen and walk by the dinosaurs and hear them roar and see them move,” she said. “Each of the dinosaurs also has an interpretive panel that tells you about that particular dinosaur: the period that it’s from, the type of things that it ate and just everything about it.”
The man behind the animatronics display was a paleontologist, Joseph said.
“He really did a lot of research on these – exactly what the dinosaurs looked like and going with the best science that we have today,” she said. “So It’s a great way for kids and adults to come out and learn about some dinosaurs and have fun, too.”
While having fun is important, Joseph stressed that learning was equally significant. Education is a staple that has been instilled in Brookgreen Gardens since it was founded by the Huntington family in 1932.
“Part of our mission at Brookgreen is education and nature education, and that’s something that the Huntingtons felt very strongly about,” Joseph said. “So this is just another way to expand our nature education that we offer and also really expand our audience to more kids and young families because the sweet spot for dinosaurs is like 3 to 6 years old. We’ve seen a lot of kids and a lot of families here enjoying the dinosaurs. That’s one of the reasons we’ve extended them into May.”
The animatronics arrived at Brookgreen Gardens from China pre-constructed in big shipping containers, Joseph said. The Brookgreen crew then finished the setup to make a place where the dinosaurs “would be at home.”
Dinosaur animatronics included in the display are: Ankylosaur, Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Megalosaurus, Triceratops, Pachycephalosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Dilophosaurus, Pteranodon, Utahraptor and Dracorex hogwartsia.
The exhibit runs 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily through May 13. The cost – in addition to general garden admission – is $8 for adults, $4 for children ages 4-12 and free for kids 3 and younger.
With just a little over a month left to see the exhibit, Joseph encourages those who want to learn about dinosaurs while enjoying a unique experience to make sure to stop by.
“It’s just fun,” she said.