December 8, 2021

The Columbus Zoo’s Dinosaur Island exhibit is extinct…for now

If you ask Superintendent, Rod Shaeffer, what ranks high on his list of favorite Smoot Construction jobs, he’ll mention the installation of the Columbus Zoo’s Dinosaur Island exhibit. Why? Because it’s different from a typical day in the field of construction and the work is relaxing.

For approximately the past six years, Rod has been leading a crew of about four people to install more than 30 animatronic dinosaurs each spring on the shore side near the Australian and Islands section of the Zoo. His team does all the rigging and placement of the creatures that are made of steel and covered in urethane waterproof skin.

This season’s dinosaurs were acquired from Dino Don Incorporated, in which its owner, Dino Don Lessem, was adviser to Stephen Spielberg’s, Jurassic Park. Due to the tight sight constraints and the use of large equipment, careful planning was involved to avoid damaging the reconstructed prehistoric animals and the surrounding Zoo environment.

Installation takes about a month to complete, and the exhibit typically opens over Memorial Day weekend and runs until the end of October, when The Smoot Team takes it down. Keep an eye out next spring when this exciting attraction comes back from extinction!

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