Look who's new to the zoo
Some of the most dangerous creatures to ever walk the Earth arrived at Twycross Zoo yesterday for a new prehistoric attraction.
Being constructed among the monkeys, penguins and elephants, Dinosaur Valley will take up about an eighth of the park.
It will be packed with towering replicas of T-rex, brachiosaurus and stegosaurus, and brought to life with thunderous sound effects and animatronics.
Yesterday, 15 creatures arrived from Texas and were assembled to create the discovery trail.
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Dinosaur Valley opens on March 28 and includes a T-rex which stands 18ft tall and roars as it raises itself off the ground.
"Everybody loves dinosaurs," said zoo spokeswoman Natalie Gudger.
"It's been designed to be frightening, but not too frightening – we've got smoke machines, sound effects, animatronics and it all adds to the experience.
"We wanted to bring these dinosaurs to life, so they spit water, their tails thrash around and they roar at the visitors."
The models were created by American company Billings Productions, which provides animatronic dinosaurs for theme parks around the world.
As well as the prehistoric wow-factor, the new trail also has an educational purpose.
About 40 per cent of the zoo's 1,000 species are classed as endangered.
They includes bonobo apes and Cao Vit gibbons, of which there are fewer than 150 left in the world.
Natalie said: "The dinosaur experience is a great way to teach youngsters about extinction, so it has educational merit as well.
"Forty per cent of our species are endangered, so what we're intending to do is use the dinosaurs to explain how animals die out."
The trail also includes a model of citipati, a feathered dinosaur which will be used to teach visitors about evolution.
Natalie said: "We're going to use citipati to teach people about how birds evolved from these giant creatures.
"Our experts will answer questions and give facts about all the dinosaurs on show."
Dinosaurs became extinct about 66 million years ago after ruling the Earth for more than 160 million years.
It is believed 75 per cent of all animals and plants were wiped out by a giant asteroid which smashed into the Mexican desert, causing the 110-mile-wide Chicxulub crater.
The zoo is looking for two full-time dinosaur professors – experts who will take visitors on tours and give information about the attraction.
Martin Traynor, managing director of Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: said: "Leisure and tourism are worth £1.4 billion to the Leicestershire economy and key attractions such as Twycross Zoo are an important part of that mix.
"However, when planning a visitor attraction it is vital to keep it refreshed and renewed.
"The dinosaur trail will help drive up visitor numbers."