ASHEBORO, NC - To paraphrase the old adage regarding a gorilla's selection of sleeping quarters: "When does a dinosaur leave town?"

In both cases, the answer appears to be at the complete discretion of the animals. At least that seems to be the case at the North Carolina Zoo, where a collection of prehistoric critters that have helped break attendance records since their arrival last spring appear to be in no hurry to pack their bags for the next train back to Texas.

"Dinosaurs," an exhibit of 15 animatronic creatures representing more than a dozen prehistoric species, opened at the N.C. Zoo in April and was scheduled to close at the end of October. But due to the ferocity of their fans, these roaring, snarling replicas of beasts from a bygone era have been called back to the stage for a month-long encore.

At the zoo, the dinosaurs inhabit a forest exhibit created just for this first-time attraction at the park. A winding pathway lined with ancient plants near the zoo's African Pavilion transports visitors back in time to come face-to-face with the ferocious flesh-eating, life-sized Tyrannosaurus rex, the gigantic herbivorous Brachiosaurus and many other denizens of early earth.
The prehistoric monsters--actually pretty nice once you get to know them--were created by Billings Productions, a Texas company specializing in dynamic dinosaur exhibits for zoos, theme parks and other tourist attractions.
The creations use computerized, hydraulic motion systems to make them more life-like. Each dinosaur is built on a steel frame and meticulously covered with textured, intricately painted rubber skin. Bold colors and theatrical touches, along with state-of-the-art electronics, make them seem real, with sounds and movements that include grasping hands, menacing claws and gnashing teeth.

In addition to the T-rex and Brachiosaurus, other species in the exhibit include: Stegosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Euoplocephalus, Compsagnathus, Triceratops, Therazinosaurus, Dimetrodon, Apatosaurus, Dilophosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Deinonychus and Baryonyx. To expand the experience, zoo visitors are able to view educational videos on dinosaurs and participate in archeological digs that help them understand how scientists discovered and documented their existence.

"Dinosaurs" also carries an important message about the need to conserve modern animal species threatened by extinction.

Along with the dinosaurs remaining another month, the zoo's SimEx-Iwerks theater will continue to show "Dino Island 4-D" while the exhibit remains at the park. Additionally, the endangered-species carousel will extend its seasonal operation, and the giraffe feeding deck will continue operation each day through November, weather permitting. Two baby gorillas, both born at the zoo in August, are also still on exhibit daily (weather permitting) and will continue to sleep exactly where their moms tell them-at least for the time being.
Time Warner Cable is the primary sponsor for "Dinosaurs." Additional support is also being provided by the Randolph County Tourism Authority and Coke.

Tickets for "Dinosaurs" are $4 in addition to regular zoo admission, although combo tickets are available that reduce the cost. For more information, call 1-800-488-044 or visit the zoo's website at
The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly E. Perdue, Governor.