Consider yourself warned: the dinosaurs have returned and it looks like they will be enjoying the spring and summer of 2013 in the Ohio Valley at the invitation of several area businesses, and to the delight of countless youngsters and a good number of those who would like to be counted among the young at heart.
Whether you are heading to Oglebay Park's Good Zoo, the SMART Centre Market (an interactive science store that also sells ice cream) or one of the local 3-D movie theatres to see the just released mega movie Jurassic Park 4, rest assured there is a dinosaur - or at least a replica of one - just around the corner, or in the next room, or maybe even hiding in the brush around the next bend in the pathway.
With the opening of the fourth movie in the Jurassic Park adventures this weekend, area residents are filling their family fun schedules with stops at several dinosaur digs in the region.
T-L Photo/Kim Loccisano
A T-Rex and Parasaurolophus are on display at Smart Centre Market in Wheeling.
At Good Zoo in Oglebay visitors are welcome to scoop out dirt that has been encasing fossils for millions of years.
The popular local zoo's newly opened summer season's programming has been built around its featured guests, a group of dinosaurs.
The most dramatic of the bunch is likely the "teenaged T-Rex".
It is shown to zoo guests at as a quarter-sized model of the well-known adult.
In addition to the T-Rex at the zoo site, there is a highly photogenic and friendly Parasaurolophus, which is only too happy to play host to youngsters wanting photos taken while they sit atop one of nature's ancient and distinguished creatures.
At the Good Zoo, there are several varieties of dinosaurs to enjoy, several of which have been outfitted with an individual electronic brain allowing it to move and to make sounds thought unique to the individual dinosaur.
"There are life-sized Deltadromeus, Dilophosaurus and Parasaurolophus dinos in the collection at the Good Zoo, as well as a temperamental teenage T-Rex, and a big mama Styracosaurus and her baby," said Penny Miller, director of The Good Zoo.
The 'river runner' as the Deltadromeus is also known is located at the top of the wetlands waterfall at the zoo.
But these are not the only dinosaurs to be found on the grounds of the popular local zoo. Their numbers even include replicas that move and make noises. Each dinosaur is fitted with its own electronic brain which activates and controls movements and produces sounds. Movements are powered by a pneumatic system that enables smoother, more realistic motion.
Summer camp offerings at the zoo will include several built around dinosaurs and related matters.
Information on public programming options at the zoo now and into the summer season is routinely available at the park's website, www.oglebay-resort.com/goodzoo
The zoo is not the only place where the public can literally get their hands on these wondrous creatures' remains - or at least can connect with some top quality replicas of their fossilized remains.
While visiting SMART Centre Market's shop at the north end of the historic Centre Market, the whole family can indulge in sweet ice cream cone treats while marveling at the array of items on permanent display in the unusual business, that just happens to be owned and operated by two well known science and math teaching professionals, Libby and Robert Strong.
Their inventory and programming opportunities for the public offer a unique blend of informational, educational, and retail opportunities under one roof, and always have items on hand that can please everyone from the youngest of today's budding archeologists or paleontologists, to the most passionate of science teachers.
Housed at the SMART Centre Market site is a full-sized replica of the largest T-Rex known to have been discovered to date.
Just below the replica of its massive skull are two items meant to provide a sense of scale to this massive creature: thigh bone replicas representing a T-Rex and a human.
The SMART Centre Market offers a variety of dinosaur focused and related programs and classes year-round.
Their schedule of classes, camps and other activities can be found at www.smartcentremarket.com
When visitors to the local store have decided what ice cream they want to try and have cone in hand, there is often a question put forward that in and of itself is not unusual, but when it is answered by one of the professional scientists who own this store the answer is anything but routine.
"We usually suggest choosing a seat at one of our cafe tables at the front of the store - just below the life-sized replica of a T-Rex, complete with teeth," offered Robert Strong. The favorite cafe chair is located right underneath the giant dinosaur's skull.
Just a few feet away from another of the cafe tables is a massive replica of an ancient shark's jaws - complete with teeth - and displayed with the jaws wide open.
If you are looking for a rather unique setting for a birthday party in the coming months, both the Good Zoo and The SMART Centre Market regularly host such events.