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Bring the Family

Franklin Park Zoo unleashes animatronic dinosaurs

The Zoorasic Park exhibit at the Franklin Park Zoo.

Zoo New England

The Zoorasic Park exhibit at the Franklin Park Zoo.

WHO: Globe staff member Janice Page, husband James Tseng, daughter Zoe (age 9), and friends

WHERE: Franklin Park Zoo

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WHAT: Zoorassic Park exhibit

Franklin Park Zoo isn’t the biggest or fanciest place to see animals. At 100 years old, it’s comfortably modest, to put it gently. But it’s also surprisingly satisfying. There have always been many worthwhile things to see and do here. Now, at least for the next few months, it’s one of the few zoos where you can also see dinosaurs.

Accompanied by friends, our family of three took in the Zoorassic Park exhibit that opened in late May. We had low expectations; the advertisements touted animatronic creatures that looked like the sort of things you see blocking holes on miniature golf courses. But we figured we’d give them a quick glance and move on to the gorillas’ enclosure.

Zoorassic Park is small enough to cover in about 15 minutes, if you’re pressed for time. We stayed for 45, and it ended up being the highlight of our afternoon.

More like a theme park attraction than a zoo exhibit, this temporary Franklin Park addition occupies a swampy area in a far corner over by Bird’s World. We strolled along a series of boardwalks, encountering various animatronic dinosaurs scattered about the “jungle.” First up was Cryolophosaurus, sporting a crest that resembles a pompadour, which a nearby placard told us is how it got its nickname, Elvisaurus. The placards are quite well done in general, presenting interesting facts with brevity, clarity, and a sense of humor that makes them kid-friendly even with all the big-osaurus words.

Continuing on, we spotted more than a dozen lifelike dinosaurs, from towering beasts to tiny things that might even be called cute. Our favorites included a Dilophosaurus that spits poison (OK, water) to the shrieks of unsuspecting passersby, and a ginormous, roaring Tyrannosaurus Rex whose stamping grounds, some of us were surprised to learn, once included North America. There was also a juvenile T-Rex, a horned Chasmosaurus, and a long-necked Massospondylus.

Outside the exhibit, the kids spent even more minutes at the Dino Dig, where they brushed away sand to uncover fossils. We guessed at the mechanics of the dinosaurs we’d just seen (“but how do they make them move?”) and vowed to return for at least one more look before the exhibit ends in September. Then we headed off to the gorillas, who did not disappoint.

The Zoorassic Park exhibit continues through Sept. 3. Admission is $3 for members, $4 for non-members in addition to regular zoo entry fees. Open 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, 10:30 a.m.-
5 p.m. weekends. Franklin Park Zoo is at
1 Franklin Park Road, Boston. 617-541-LION, www.franklinparkzoo.org.

Janice Page can be reached at jpage@globe.com.
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