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Philadelphia Zoo to welcome giant animatronic dinosaurs as part of new experience in the former children’s section

A T-Rex, Triceratops, and Woolly Mammoth will be among the Philadelphia Zoo’s two dozen new animatronic residents, providing people with a brief escape a year into the pandemic.

An animatronic triceratops is pictured at the Philadelphia Zoo's new "Big Time" exhibit, set to open in March.
An animatronic triceratops is pictured at the Philadelphia Zoo's new "Big Time" exhibit, set to open in March.Read moreCourtesy Philadelphia Zoo

A T. rex, triceratops, and woolly mammoth will be among the Philadelphia Zoo’s two dozen new residents come March when they move into the footprint of the former children’s section.

Yes, of course, dinosaurs are long extinct — these creatures will be animatronic — but zoo officials say the experience will be an “immersive” and “multi-sensory” one that has guests feeling as if they’re traveling through time.

The exhibit, “Big Time: Life in an Endangerous Age,” is set to open to the public March 29 and will follow the same coronavirus precautions that the rest of the zoo has taken since reopening in July. Indoor spaces remain closed to the public, all guests 2 and older are required to wear masks, and tickets must be reserved in advance.

Zoo officials say they hope the new exhibit will provide people with a brief, educational escape a year into the pandemic.

» READ MORE: As people empty out of zoos and sanctuaries, caretakers keep animals’ bellies full while calling for donations (from April)

“We are very happy to welcome guests to the Zoo to experience BIG TIME, a tailor-made adventure immersing guests in the world of history’s most impressive behemoths, taking them through cataclysmic events, highlighting threatened animal species today and providing ways to help enact change,” Philadelphia Zoo president and CEO Vikram H. Dewan said in a statement.

As part of the experience, the dinos will guide guests back in time through several landscapes, featuring exploding volcanoes, a post-asteroid-strike Earth, and prehistoric Australia, Madagascar, and North America.

Guests will come face to face with a 98-foot-long alamosaurus (and its 20-foot-long tail), the horned 1,000-pound head of a triceratops, and a saber-toothed tiger with 11-inch fangs. They’ll walk alongside a 3,000-pound T. rex and a 15-foot-tall woolly mammoth.

» READ MORE: The Philadelphia Zoo welcomes a new giraffe, 15-month-old Bea, to its herd

When guests “return” to present day, they’ll learn about some current endangered species and ways they can help save them. They’ll be prompted to send postcards or sign petitions in favor of wildlife conservation and to request that lawmakers move to protect 30% of lands and oceans by 2030.

Tickets for “Big Time,” which are an extra $6 with a general admission pass, went on sale Wednesday at The experience is set to run from March 29 through Sept. 30. Capacity for the exhibit will be limited to ensure proper social distancing.