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Walking with dinosaurs at Broxbourne’s Paradise Wildlife Park

PUBLISHED: 10:57 12 June 2018

T-rex looms large (photo: Louise McEvoy)

T-rex looms large (photo: Louise McEvoy)

Louise McEvoy

World of Dinosaurs, one of the UK’s biggest dinosaur attractions has just opened at Broxbourne’s Paradise Wildlife Park. Reporter Louise McEvoy took her family on a journey to the Jurassic

World of Dinosaurs features 30 extraordinary life-sized animatronic dinosaurs set in natural woodland, and was officially opened at Easter by McFly frontman Tom Fletcher, Spice Girl Emma Bunton and Big Brother presenter Emma Willis.

The McEvoys pose with a not-too friendly looking pachycephalosaurus (photo: Louise McEvoy)The McEvoys pose with a not-too friendly looking pachycephalosaurus (photo: Louise McEvoy)

Enter through the huge Jurassic Park-inspired wooden gates and take the winding path through the tall trees to discover everything from the huge spinosaurus and brachiosaurus to the cunning velociraptors, and, of course, the terrifying t-rex.

The roars, grumbles and squawks, all accompanied by the head and limb movements of the dinosaurs bring these convincing creations to life, and will leave both children and adults fascinated by their creators’ ingenuity.

A walking tank - remarkable ankylosaurus (photo: Louise McEvoy)A walking tank - remarkable ankylosaurus (photo: Louise McEvoy)

World of Dinosaurs is compact enough for little feet not to get worn out, but doesn’t feel small. The informative plaques beside each roar-some creature make it an educational prehistory trip (and ensure adults aren’t left floundering for facts to bestow upon riveted children). Did you know, for instance, that oviraptors from the late Cretaceous period, got their name from the belief that they stole other dinosaurs’ eggs? More recent evidence suggests these 1.5m tall, possibly feathered, dinosaurs were not sneaky little ‘egg seizers’, but the clutch the first specimen was found with was actually its own.

As well as the impressive animatronic models, there is also a Dino Dig area for mini-paleontologists and a train ride – the Rex Express – which costs an additional £2 per person and gives visitors a different perspective of the ‘prehistoric’ world. While the trees and dino ‘pens’ were almost bare of foliage on our visit, come summer the dinosaurs will look even more at home I think.

Stegosaurus - watch out for that tail! (photo: Louise McEvoy)Stegosaurus - watch out for that tail! (photo: Louise McEvoy)

It’s easy to see why children are crazy about dinosaurs. Once described as ‘nature’s special effects’, it’s the fact that these huge weirdly-shaped creatures were actually real, that captures the imagination. My five-year-old Tom is no exception. His eyes were as big as brontosaurus eggs on his journey throughout the experience as the massive models towered over his small frame and transported him to another world.

Tom loved the t-rex and the fact you could have your photograph taken sitting in a jeep with the huge carnivore seemingly chasing behind. But he also loved the less obvious, like the plesiosaur – which was actually not a real dinosaur but a marine reptile – see, I’m sounding like an expert.

Fearsome hunter, the velociraptor (photo: Louise McEvoy)Fearsome hunter, the velociraptor (photo: Louise McEvoy)

‘The plesiosaur is my favourite because I like to think there is still one living in the sea somewhere,’ Tom says, adding: ‘I hope it isn’t lonely!’

On the exhibit as a whole, Tom’s verdict is: ‘It’s awesome. The dinosaurs are huge and I like the way they move and roar. I thought it was going to be scary, but it’s really exciting.’

Big Brother presenter Emma Willis, McFly frontman Tom Fletcher and Spice Girl Emma Bunton at the official opening of the exhibit (photo: Louise McEvoy)Big Brother presenter Emma Willis, McFly frontman Tom Fletcher and Spice Girl Emma Bunton at the official opening of the exhibit (photo: Louise McEvoy)

There is also a serious side to the new exhibit. Lynn Whitnall, director of Paradise Wildlife Park and the Zoological Society of Hertfordshire, explains: ‘We’re obviously very exited to be welcoming dinosaurs to Paradise, but the World of Dinosaurs isn’t just an amazing thrill for all the senses. It serves as a reminder that, although these amazing creatures are now long extinct, right now other remarkable animals are facing extinction, largely at the hands of man. A visit to the extinct creatures of the World of Dinosaurs will, in a very tangible way, help us save other creatures from sharing the fate of the dinosaurs.’

The Zoological Society of Hertfordshire is the wildlife park’s registered charity, with a team that cares for the park’s wide range of animals and also raises funds to support wildlife conservation projects in the UK and around the world. The charity also acts as a focus for an expanded wildlife education programme for visitors.

Is anyone scared? Pete with the kids (photo: Louise McEvoy)Is anyone scared? Pete with the kids (photo: Louise McEvoy)

Paradise Wildlife Park is part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, with successful African penguin, lar gibbon, cotton top tamarin, silvery marmoset and red ruff lemur births in the past year alone.

Entry to the World of Dinosaurs is included in the ticket price to Paradise Wildlife Park, which is home to more than 800 animals, including big cats, zebra, camels, red panda and reptiles. It is the only zoo in the UK with five big cat species – tigers, white lions, jaguars, snow leopards and a white tiger. It also has the largest anaconda and the biggest collection of monkeys in the UK.

From millions of years ago to the newest rare arrivals, this is a wild adventure with an important message.

Tickets on the gate are £21 for adults and £18.50 for children aged two to 15. A discount is applied if you order in advance online, see pwpark.com

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