St. Louis – The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis is marking the golden anniversary of one of its most popular attractions, the Climatron, by transporting visitors back in time to the golden age of dinosaurs. Feel the thrill of encountering a hulking Placerias, bird-like Bambiraptor or soaring Sordes in an unparalleled environment: hidden in the heart of a thriving tropical rain forest. Witness dozens of these realistic, pre-historic creatures when “DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek Through Time” debuts at the garden May 1.
Immerse yourself in traditional Chinese arts, music, culture and cuisine with Chinese Culture Days at the garden, Saturday and Sunday, May 15 and 16 from10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
Since 1960, the Climatron has easily been one of the most recognizable features at the garden, noted as the first geodesic dome to be used as a plant conservatory. Inside, lush green foliage, cascading waterfalls and a warm, humid climate simulate an authentic jungle atmosphere.
“This exhibition provides a perfect introduction to the history of life on earth, extinction, and survival. How we manage our resources will have a major effect on the future of life, and there are many lessons to be learned from the past,” says Dr. Peter Raven, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden. “In addition to the educational value, there is also a real sense of excitement in experiencing these lifelike creatures in such an awe-inspiring setting. We hope it will evoke wonder, imagination and intrigue in visitors of all ages.”
On the “trek through time,” visitors of all ages will experience life in a tropical forest long ago, today and tomorrow. A smooth pathway winds through the 24,000-square-foot Climatron conservatory, where more than a dozen installations depict dinosaurs and reptiles from the Cretaceous, Jurassic, Triassic and Permian periods “frozen in time” amid the living flora. Encounter hungry herbivores, including a pair of toothy Heterodontosaurus and an eight-foot-long,bulky-bodied Placerias. Spot a flock of bird-like Bambiraptors hovering beneath green cycads, keeping watch over nests brimming with eggs. Identify a large Dimetrodon by the finned “sail” along its spine, or the three-foot-long Rhamphorynchus by its fur-covered wings.
Postosuchus, a pre-dinosaur age predator of Placerias, hides atop a cliff near a bamboo grove, while a hungry Syntarsus lurks beneath a large tree. See the Compsognathus tend to their nests near the basin of a waterfall as a trio of vigilant Oviraptors keep watch over their nests of offspring near a shallow pool.
Look up to find three hairy Sordes, ready to take flight from their perches in the trees. Two Quetzalcoatlus babies, also flying reptiles, huddle in their nest above a tank of fish, while their 30-foot-long parent flies high inside the neighboring Shoenberg Temperate House, a conservatory adjacent to the Climatron.
Outside on garden grounds, a 30-foot-long, duck-billed Parasaurolophus nurtures its three young. A 32-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex can scarcely go unnoticed as it towers above the surrounding flora. On public display for the first time, a 30-foot-long pregnant Hypsibema, the Missouri state dinosaur, watches over its nest and greets visitors near the entrance to the Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden.
The realistic DinoQuest dinosaurs and reptiles are a labor of love for creator Guy Darrough of Lost World Studios in Arnold, Missouri. Darrough has been devoted to building life-sized models of these extinct creatures for nearly 15 years.
“My ultimate goal is to create an experience that is realistic enough to draw visitors into the arena of science and learning,” says Darrough. “The aesthetic appeal of these dinosaurs coupled with the surrounding vegetation is just incredible.”
The dinosaur discovery continues as visitors exit the Climatron into the Brookings Interpretive Center. There, visitors will be amazed to view a one-and-one-half-ton slab of sandstone containing over 200 bones from dinosaurs, turtles, fish and birds. Darrough obtained the slab from an excavation in Lance Creek, Wyoming, and estimates the sandstone piece is more than 65 million years old.
Children can hone their own paleontology skills by unearthing faux bones at a mini-dino dig site, climb and play in a dinosaur nest, envision themselves in the days of dinosaurs through green screen technology, and get an up-close look at the Dino Egg Incubator, an original prop from the set of the movie “Jurassic Park III.” Families can explore life in tropical forests today, discovering geckos and poison dart frogs, exploring the connections between animals and plants, and experiencing the many multi-sensory gifts that these bio-rich ecosystems give us. Visitors will also learn about tropical forests today and how Garden researchers are working feverishly to document, protect and preserve these at-risk ecosystems for generations to come.
Special themed classes, events and activities will be offered throughout the exhibition’s duration to enhance the DinoQuest experience, including “Jurassic Dark” extended Thursday evenings, DinoQuest Sleepovers, and a MovieFest. Additional activities include dinosaur-themed summer camp sessions, tropical forest ecology classes and guided tours for school groups, workshops for educators and family backpack adventures.
“DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek Through Time” is on display Saturday, May 1, through Sunday, Oct. 3, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Purchase tickets on site or in advance at the website. Exhibition admission (which includes entry to the Climatron dome, Shoenberg Temperate House and Brookings Interpretive Center) is $12 for adults (ages 13 and over), $10 for seniors and $5 for children (ages three to 12). Exhibition admission is free to St. Louis City and County residents on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 to 10 a.m.
Become a Missouri Botanical Garden member to receive discounted DinoQuest exhibition admission of $3 for adults and $2 for children (ages three to 12), plus free admission on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Garden members also receive free general Garden admission. For membership information, visit the website.
For more information on “DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek Through Time,” visit the website.
DinoQuest sponsorship opportunities are available. Call 314-577-9500 or visit the website for more information.
Also May 1 through Oct. 3, visit the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House at Faust Park in Chesterfield, Missouri, to experience “Jurassic Bugs.” Thirty-inch dragonflies, foot-long cockroaches and a 10-foot sea scorpion are among the models joining a host of crawling, flying and nesting living creatures on display. For more information, visit the website or call 636-530-0076. The Butterfly House is a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden.
Festivities for Chinese Culture Days 2010 begin Saturday at 11 a.m. with a grand parade led by a dazzling 70-foot, 24-legged dragon winding through the crowds to dispel bad luck and evil spirits. Traditional martial artists and lion dancers follow, accompanied by gongs and drums, to bring in good luck for the Year of the Tiger of the Chinese zodiac. The parade will be repeated again at 2 p.m. both days.
A host of activities surround the Grigg Nanjing Friendship Garden, also known as the Chinese Garden. The private “Scholar’s Garden” is filled with pavilions, bridges and decorated pavements, affirming the idea that Chinese gardens are built, not planted. These structures reflect the traditional Chinese shan shu – mountain and water – landscape. Stones around a central pool of water symbolize the five sacred mountains in China.
Take a guided tour of the Chinese Garden hourly between noon and 4 p.m. Experience lessons in the ancient martial art of T’ai Ji at 1 and 3 p.m. Throughout the day, enjoy tea tastings and Chinese traditional music, played on the ancient pipa and Gu Zheng instruments.
Witness an incredible display of elegant and riveting dance and acrobatics performed by the Shanghai acrobats. For over 40 years, the New Shanghai Circus Troupe has worked to perfect the fine Chinese folk art of tumbling into an international award-winning performance involving both artistry and acrobatics. Performances are held at noon and 4 p.m. at the outdoor Cohen Amphitheater.
Hone your home cooking skills with a Chinese cooking demonstration at 2:30 p.m. in the lower level of the Kemper Center for Home Gardening. Visit the outdoor food court, where dumplings, egg rolls, lo mein and other mouth-watering favorites will be available for purchase from local restaurants and Chinese organizations.
A program of regional styles of Chinese fashion and cultures will take place twice daily at 1 and 4:30 p.m. inside the Shoenberg Theater. Seating is limited.
Chinese Culture Days admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (ages 65 and over), and $5 for children (ages three to 12). Garden members are $5; members’ children ages 12 and under are free. Doors open at 9 a.m. with activities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Purchase tickets in advance online. Trams will not operate during the event.
Chinese Culture Days is presented with sponsorship by Novus International, Inc.
Regular garden admission is $8 for adults and free for children ages 12 and under. St. Louis City and County resident admission is $4 for adults (ages 13 to 64), $3 for seniors (ages 65 and over), and free on most Wednesday and Saturday mornings before noon. Special admission rates apply during the third weekend of May, Labor Day weekend and the first weekend of October.
Become a Missouri Botanical Garden member to receive discounted exhibition admissions for some exhibits, plus free admission on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Garden members also receive free general garden admission. For membership information, visit the website.
The Missouri Botanical Garden’s mission is “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment, in order to preserve and enrich life.” Today, 151 years after opening, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display.
The 79-acre Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in St. Louis, just south of I-44 at Vandeventer-Kingshighway (exit No. 287B). Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except December. 25. Grounds open at 7 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. Admission is $8; free children ages 12 and under and garden members. St. Louis City and County residents are $4 and free Wednesdays and Saturdays until noon (exception: special admission rate events). Park for free on site and two blocks west at the Shaw-Vandeventer intersection. The garden is easily accessible by taking the MetroLink commuter rail line to the Central West End station and picking up a Metro bus. For general information, visit the website or call the 24-hour recording at 314-577-9400 or 800-642-8842. For volunteer opportunities, call 314-577-5187 or visit the website. The Missouri Botanical Garden is a tobacco-free environment. .
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