Philadelphia Zoo dinosaurs: Photo tour of ‘Big Time’ animatronic exhibit

“Big Time” is great for kids, but also makes for a perfect outdoor date or day spent with friends.

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Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

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It’s been two months since the Philadelphia Zoo opened its latest special exhibit, which features 24 life-size replicas of creatures long gone. With spring greenery filling in, the display has never looked better.

A tour through “Big Time” isn’t quite like checking out the zoo’s many live animal collections, which you’ll walk past to get there, and can visit on the same trip.

But the prehistoric show offers plenty of its own benefits. There’s no craning your neck or hoping an elusive lion or tiger deigns to come out of its cave. Instead, the dinosaurs are all right there in front of you as you walk down the winding path, which is cleverly arranged so you only see a few of the giant, species-specific dioramas at any one time.

Constructed by an outfit called DinoDon in Media, Pa., the animatronic models were made with a surprising amount of detail, so they bear close inspection. That’s if you dare to get close — the roars some of the animatronic creatures let out as they gnash their teeth and lift their claws have the potential to make little ones jump in momentary fright.

For the most part, kids are a perfect audience for the exhibit. Even the scare doesn’t last too long (each dino stays silent and still until someone steps close to it). They can also limited-edition, dinosaur-shaped zoo keys to unlock narration at audio boxes along the way.

It’s also a perfect date activity, with interesting selfie backgrounds built right in. There’s little chance of getting bored, since curators have sprinkled informative placards throughout, building a narrative about evolution, climate change, endangered species, and illegal wildlife trade.

The whole thing is located in what was once the Children’s Zoo, an area that hasn’t been open since 2013. There’s a snack bar near the entrance/exit of the loop, appropriately rebranded as “Dino Bites,” and a beer garden that also serves wine.

“Big Time: Life in an Endangerous Age” is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Sept. 30. Tickets cost $6 per person (under 2 years old free) on top of the regular zoo admission ($24 for adults and kids over 12; $19 for ages 2 to 11). Advance purchase is required.

Scroll down to check out two dozen photos of what you’ll find when you go.

The alamosaurus is 98 feet long and the biggest of the dinos on display
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
It greets visitors at the entrance to the 'Big Time' exhibit
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
The T-rex stands 40 feet and weighs 3,000 lbs.
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
Quetzalcoatlus has a 35-foot wingspan
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
Edmontosaurus is 40 feet long
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
But its babies are extremely cute
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
Head-butting Pachycephalosaurs were actually herbivores
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
With feathers, the Anzu is extra creepy
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
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Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
The little ones are still adorable
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
Aepyornis are also known as 'elephant birds' and weigh 1,200 lbs.
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
The Dakotaraptor was a fierce predator
Danya Henninger / Imagic Digital
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Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
A giant sloth lives up to its name
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
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Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
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Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
Thylacoleo is the largest carnivorous animal to inhabit Australia
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
Everyone's favorite prehistoric tusked animal, the woolly mammoth
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
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Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
The crater of the asteroid thought to have led to the dinosaurs' demise
Danya Henninger / Imagic Digital
Dino Bites snack bar
Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital
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Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

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