Edinburgh Zoo launches Dinosaurs Return! exhibition

Euan Morrison meets Velma at Edinburgh Zoo. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Euan Morrison meets Velma at Edinburgh Zoo. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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THE sight of a vicious reptilian killer with razor-sharp teeth would send most families fleeing in terror.

But bosses at Edinburgh Zoo are hoping the “birth” of a flesh-eating dinosaur in the Capital will have the opposite effect, with thousands of visitors expected to flock to a new exhibit promising to being the prehistoric predators back to life.

Velma the velociraptor was hatched yesterday from a giant egg under the watchful eye of her keeper as zoo bosses prepare to launch their answer to Jurassic Park.

The lifelike new addition is 13ft long and has computerised controls, meaning she can roar, blink and move her head from side to side.

The terrifying predator will be the first of a set of animatronic dinosaurs featured as part of six-month exhibition, 
Dinosaurs Return!

A zoo spokeswoman predicted Velma and the other exhibits would prove a roaring success and a big hit with children.

She said: “We estimate Dinosaurs Return! could generate between 50,000 to 100,000 extra visitors to Edinburgh Zoo.

“We are cautiously hoping for a ten per cent uplift in visitors over the summer period.

“However, if we experience an increase in line with similar exhibitions across the UK we could see a 15 per cent to 20 per cent increase.

“We are receiving fantastic feedback and excitement regarding the arrival of our dinosaur attraction in early April, which has never been done before in Scotland on this scale and coincides with the launch of the film Jurassic World.”

Dinosaurs Return! will feature 11 adult model creatures, two babies and a nest when it opens on April 3.

Zoo staff are working on a specially designed landscape, with huge rocks and foliage to create their habitat.

Cheryl-Ann Beattie, animal presenter at the zoo, said: “We are going to be learning all about the dinosaurs’ past and linking it in with animals that are extinct today and how we can prevent further extinction and help with further extinction.

“We’ve got velociraptors, stegosaurus, brachiosaurus and a big Tyrannosaurus Rex – so lots of exciting ones that kids are going to know about.”

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland hopes the exhibition will allow it to engage with large audiences and tell the stories of the zoo and Highland Wildlife Park’s living collections.

“Dinosaur keeper” presenters will bring the exhibition to life and offer visitors a chance to discover a lost world.

But they also aim to raise awareness about the very real threat of extinction faced by endangered species today, and to highlight the work that is being done to safeguard their future.

Velma will be making appearances at the zoo and various landmarks and attractions across Scotland in the coming weeks, including Dynamic Earth, the National Museum of Scotland, Ocean Terminal and the Gyle.