A Bearded Dragon and a Dracorex Hogwartsia visit Brookfield Zoo

You might expect a place that has exotic species to have interesting creatures you want to see, but dragons and dinosaurs?

A mythological creature has landed on a castle harboring a live dragon from today's world at Dinos & Dragons at Brookfield Zoo. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

A mythological creature has landed on a castle harboring a live dragon from today’s world at Dinos & Dragons at Brookfield Zoo. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Zoological Society’s extraordinary suburban compound of more than 3,000 animals west of Chicago, opened “Dinos & Dragons” May 6 and will continue the exhibit through Sept. 17, 2017.

You start what turns out to be an excursion into dragon mythology, literature and reality in a tent where a live Komodo Dragon peers curiously back at you and a dragon (make that lizard) caretaker walks around holding maybe a Frilled Dragon from Australia or another lizard that doesn’t mind being touched.

The tented area is divided into themes – Medieval, Asian and Paleontology (study of prehistoric times using fossils).

“We’re connecting science and myth,” said André Copeland, Chicago Zoological Society’s Interpretive Programs Manager.

Visitors are first greeted by a fierce-looking dragon on top of a medieval, castle that holds a glassed space for one of the live dragon-named creature.

There are several more live specimens but near the tent exit is a large, Chinese structure with another live “dragon”.

“In European myths, knights slay dragons. In Asia, the dragon is a symbol of virtue,” said Copeland.

He suggested visitors note differences in the mythical creatures often lumped together as dragons by counting their limbs.

“A wyvern is a biped and is popular in Europe. A dragon has four limbs,” he said.

Youngsters will want to stop at the paleontology area to brush aside material covering fossils and a peek cutout for a photo.

The wonderful props, lizards and learning stations are a traveling exhibit provided by Louisville, KY based Build 4 Impact.

“People can see the real live dragons of today,” said Copeland.

A couple of Pteranodons guard a Brookfield Zoo nature trail where dinosaurs and dragons lurk. Brookfield Zoo photo

A couple of Pteranodons guard a Brookfield Zoo nature trail where dinosaurs and dragons lurk. Brookfield Zoo photo

Next, as you leave from a back exit you might hear a roar. But you’re not afraid of dinosaurs and dragons that lived eons ago, right?

Instead of playing a game of Thrones, the signs suggest a game of Bones. One station asks “Are You Smarter than A Paleontologist?

Now, be ready for photos or a selfie in front of an Ankylosaur Gryphon, the Late Jurassic period’s Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus or the Late Cretaceous period’s T- Rex.

Stop at the Dinosaur Dissection Lab near the exhibitand  then go over to the outdoor  Stage-osaurus Theater west of Tropic World (weather permitting).

It’s a fun, informative exhibit, and yes, there are Harry Potter book references.

Details: Brookfield Zoo is at 8400 31st Street, Brookfield, Illinois. For information call (708) 688-8000 and visit CZS

 

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