Asheboro, NC — A traveling dinosaur that this year has helped the North Carolina Zoo promote one of its most popular temporary exhibits will be making a number of special appearances this week as the zoo’s “Dinosaurs” nears the end of its 2013 run in Asheboro. 

“Deinonychus” is a moving, snarling, animatronic creature that has been traveling around the Piedmont since April promoting the N.C. Zoo’s  “Dinosaurs” exhibit. The 11-foot-long animal has visited schools, nursing homes, businesses and a string of Biscuitville restaurants escorted by zoo staff offering free T-shirts and passes to the “Dinosaurs” exhibit. 

As “Dinosaurs” heads toward the end of its six-month 2013 run on November 3, “Deinonychus” will be appearing this week at the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem as well as a number of Biscuitville restaurants in the eastern Piedmont. Traveling aboard a pickup provided by Asheboro’s Wayne Thomas Chevrolet, “Deinonychus” will be at the fair grounds at 421 West 27th Street from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday,  Thursday and Friday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. Up to 500 passes for the Dinosaurs exhibit will be given away during the fair appearances. 

On Thursday, October 10, the traveling dinosaur will make a whirlwind tour of six different Biscuitville restaurants from Burlington to Raleigh. At each location, zoo staff will be giving away T-shirts and passes to the “Dinosaurs” exhibit to the first 25 people who drop by. The tour starts with a 6:30 to 7:15 a.m. appearance at the Biscuitville at 669 Huffman Mill Road in Burlington, followed by a 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. visit at the 310 South Main Street location in Graham. 

Traveling on along Interstate 85, “Deinonychus” will be stopping from 8:45 to 9:30 a.m. at Biscuitville’s 832 South 5th Street store in Mebane and from 10 to 11 a.m. at the 2822 Chapel Hill Blvd. location in Durham. Rounding out the Thursday morning dinosaur dash will be appearances from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the restaurant at 2820 N.C. Highway 55 in Cary and from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. at Biscuitville’s 2426 Wake Forest Road location in Raleigh.

“Dinosaurs” is reaching the tail end of its second successful stint at the N.C. Zoo. These roaring replicas of a lost era have helped set several zoo attendance records over the past two years with more than 35 percent of visitors touring the temporary exhibit.

Some 15 different species have been featured during the 2013 “Dinosaurs” experience. Among the featured species this season is “Giganotosaurus,” which replaced the Tyrannosaurus Rex that was the hit of the 2012 display. “Giga” is actually larger than T-Rex, with a massive skull more than six feet long. Remains of this "Giant Southern Lizard" helped show scientists that North Africa and South America were joined together much later than previously believed. Found in Argentina, “Giga” lived in the early and late Cretaceous Period 90-100 million years ago. 

Created by Billings Productions, a Texas company specializing in state-of-the-art dinosaur exhibits for zoos, theme parks and other tourist attractions, each dinosaur is built on a steel frame with hydraulic movements that include grasping hands, menacing claws and gnashing teeth. Then they’re meticulously covered with textured, intricately painted rubber skin featuring bold colors and theatrical touches that make them seem all too real.

So whether you are a youngster with a passion for paleontology or an oldster with just a passing fancy for prehistoric critters, “Dinosaurs 2013” is a can’t-miss zoo attraction. And the time to catch their act is quickly running out. Next year “Dinosaurs” will be replaced at the zoo with Billing’s new “Giant Bugs” exhibit featuring giant animatronic insects.

The zoo is located on Zoo Parkway (N.C. 159) six miles southeast of Asheboro off U.S. 220 and U.S. 64. Operating hours April through October are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children 2-12 and $10 for senior citizens 62-plus. For more information, visit the zoo’s website at or call 1-800-488-0444.

The N.C. Zoo is a state facility and has not been affected by the recent federal agency closings. The zoo is operated by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John E. Skvarla, III, Secretary; Pat McCrory, Governor.