See Life-Sized Dinosaurs Up Close at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

A trip to the zoo can introduce your child to a number of animals that crawl, roam and fly in the wild, but what about those that lived millions of years ago?

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore launched a new exhibit on dinosaurs in May.

The exhibit features animatronic dinosaurs from “Dino” Don Lessem, a paleontologist who was a consultant on “Jurassic Park” and creates the steel-framed giants to be “as lifelike as we think we can create,” says Maryland Zoo President & CEO Kirby Fowler.

Watch as a 65-foot-long, 35-foot-high Brachiosaurus leans against a tree and stretches its long neck up toward the top or stare face down into the eyes of a T-Rex—at a safe distance, of course.

The exhibit is nestled in the zoo’s old growth forest—one of the oldest urban old growth forests in the country, according to Stephen Fluke, the zoo’s horticulture manager.

Fowler brought in these dinos as part of an ongoing effort to introduce new exhibits and highlight a part of the zoo that tends to get overlooked.

T-Rex at Maryland Zoo dinosaur exhibit
T-Rex at “DINOSAURS: Explore the Prehistoric Forest” at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.


“People often just go straight to the elephants and the giraffes—which are wonderful animals—but they sometimes miss some of the Maryland animals we have back here,” he explains.

These animals include otters, bobcats, bats, snapping turtles and reptiles, and Fowler says he hopes to add habitats for red wolves, owls and eagles soon.

Dinosaurs at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
“DINOSAURS: Explore the Prehistoric Forest” exhibit at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

There’s also a lot to learn about dinosaurs that is still relevant today.

“It’s important to educate the public, too, about how these dinosaurs are similar to us. There’s still dinosaurs in our lives—the birds are all descendants of dinosaurs,” Fowler says.

Dinosaurs share traits with our modern animals that have been adapted over the millennia. Just like the Triceratops has a frill on its head which it used to cool its body, the elephant uses its ears in a similar way, he adds.

Fluke also took care to dress the new exhibit in native plants that might have been similar to actual habitats—such as sedges, ferns and imperial palms.

He used imagery of what real habitats might have looked like as an aid.

To visit the exhibit, zoogoers must purchase a $5 add-on for members (or a $6 add-on for nonmembers) to a regular zoo ticket. Proceeds will support the zoo’s conservation efforts through the Maryland Zoological Society.

Capilainn and Ciara Moriarty dinosaur exhibit zoo
Capilainn and Ciara Moriarty inspect a dinosaur at the opening of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore’s prehistoric exhibit on Friday, May 6.

The zoo will have a number of special family events to coincide with its exhibit through October.

Explore the prehistoric forest at twilight on select Fridays beginning May 20 for “Dinos at Dusk” or catch a showing of the original “Jurassic Park” on Saturday, May 21 at 6:30 p.m.

This showing will kick off the zoo’s summer movie series prior to the release of the final “Jurassic Park” movie in theaters on June 10.

The zoo’s popular breakfast with the animals program continues with a monthly “Dino Breakfast.” Educators will talk about how dinosaurs moved, hunted and reared their young and leave you with takeaway gifts.

Stay tuned for an all-ages sleepover this fall. Start with breakfast and spend the day in the zoo before camping overnight with tours, games and a closer look at the exhibit on Sept. 10.

Parents can also take advantage of the new zoo experience with a happy hour and tour featuring the exhibit on June 17 and 18 from 5-8 p.m. An exclusive “Dino Sour” beer from Union Craft Brewing will be available this summer.

For more information on the exhibit and special events, visit

Photos by Lindsay C. VanAsdalan

About Lindsay VanAsdalan

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