FAQ's About "How To Train Your Dinosaur"
Are the hosts in the show real keepers or actors?
The hosts were selected by audition, but they aren't just actors. They all share a real interest in animals and a love of performing.
Is this show and Duncan too scary for little kids?
Every child is different. It is impossible to predict an individual child's reaction to a large, realistic-looking dinosaur. If you think your child might be fearful, consider sitting further back from the stage.
Where can I find out when the shows are scheduled?
Current schedule: Duncan will be on stage at 3:00 p.m. on 5/4, and 12:00 & 3:00 p.m. 5/5.
Show times may change, so check the schedule when you arrive at the Zoo. Please be aware that Duncan does not perform in the rain. T-Rexes don't like to get wet.
It is ok to photograph and/or videotape Duncan and the show?
Absolutely take photos or videos during the show! There is also a five minute period at the end of the show for photo opportunities of Duncan with your children.
Will there be different shows with Duncan or only this one about training?
Right now, the only show is "How to Train Your Dinosaur." Any future shows haven't been decided.
Why doesn't the Zoo use a real animal in this or another show?
The Zoo has "ambassador" animals that come out to meet the public. We've had such shows in the past and there may be a show in the future featuring one or more of those animals. But for now, Duncan's is the only show.
Do keepers really brush the gorillas' teeth?
Yes they do! They also have trained the gorillas to hold their ears up to the mesh so they can have their temperatures taken, if necessary. Elephants know they will be rewarded for putting their feet into tubs of warm water for their daily pedicures, parrots open their wings to allow their feathers to be trimmed, giraffes allow keepers to pick up their feet to file their hooves, to name just a few of the behaviors that have been trained.
When and where can we see real keepers working with and training the animals?
Much of the animals' training takes place behind the scenes. But most mornings, you can see keepers giving the elephants pedicures near the back of the elephant yard.
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About Duncan the T. Rex
How big is Duncan and what does he weigh?
He is 15.5 feet long and 7 feet tall when his head is raised. He weighs 85 pounds (not counting his operator).
Is there someone inside Duncan controlling him?
We want our younger guests to enjoy the illusion of a real dinosaur, so please don't tell them there is really someone inside Duncan.
How come I can see the legs of the person inside Duncan's costume?
We wish we could find someone with legs that look just like a dinosaur's, but until we do, the operator's legs will be visible. We've also discovered that some kids who are frightful become less so when they "see" the human legs.
Where are the sounds Duncan makes coming from?
The operator inside Duncan has a voice synthesizer allowing him to make a variety of sounds.
Are there other dinosaurs at the Zoo besides Duncan?
Duncan is an only child. The Zoo doesn't have plans for any other dinosaurs at this time.
Why is the T. Rex named Duncan?
He was named by some very generous Zoo donors. Many Zoo animals can be named or sponsored.
What is Duncan made of?
A backpack holds the lightweight aluminum frame that forms Duncan's skeleton. Foam was used to construct his muscles and tendons. Everything was covered by a "skin" of custom manufactured fabric that is dyed, then hand-sewed on and custom painted. The operator wears the backpack and is able to control Duncan's head and jaw; Duncan's eye blinks are run by a computer program. The poop is preloaded into a cylinder and mechanically released by the operator. A video monitor allows the operator inside Duncan to see ahead via images from a pinhole video camera located in the tip of Duncan's nose. The operator also wears a headset that allows him to make sounds through a voice synthesizer.
Who designed Duncan?
The Hollywood "creature shop" Choido (KEY-oh-do) Brothers designed and built Duncan. They've done animatronics, live-action puppetry, stop-motion animation, and other special effects for movies like "Elf," "Dinner for Schmucks," "Screamers," "Gremlins" and others. His actual designer used to supervise the Jim Henson Creature Shop.
How much did Duncan cost?
He cost less than a brontosaurus and more than a pterodactyl. Seriously, much of Duncan's cost was underwritten by several generous sponsors, including the Duncan Family, who are the naming sponsors. Everyone is welcome to help sponsor Duncan, starting at $25. Visit the Development Office for more information.
What is Duncan's poop made of?
It is a nontoxic recipe that includes water, cooking oil, peat moss, bark, methyl cellulose (thickener used in tooth paste - and in the Ghostbusters' gooey "slime"), vermiculite (natural mineral used as a soil conditioner), and a preservative called Glydant Anti-Microbial.
How come Duncan doesn't sing or talk?
None of the animals at the Zoo sing or talk! We wanted to show how keepers work with our animals - and how they learn to communicate to each other.
Why can't we touch Duncan?
Duncan's skin can't take a lot of handling. Most of the animals at the Zoo can't be touched either.
Can we see Duncan when he isn't on stage?
Sorry! He is off exhibit except during the shows.
Can Duncan appear at my/my child's birthday party at the Zoo?
In addition to his show, Duncan makes limited appearances at the Zoo for parties and events. Contact
for Duncan's availability.
Can we rent Duncan for an event outside the Zoo?
Sorry! Duncan has to stay at the Zoo and can't be rented by outside groups or individuals.
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FAQ for Younger Guests
Did Duncan come from an egg?
Yes! Dinosaurs hatched from eggs and are reptiles.
Where are Duncan's mommy and daddy?
Duncan's egg was found by itself. It didn't look like his parents were around to take care of it. So it was brought to the Zoo to hatch. Keepers at the Zoo have taken very good care of him and he has lots of new friends - like you - who come see him.
Will Duncan try to eat me?
He will not!
Does Duncan try to eat the other animals at the Zoo?
Like most of the animals at the Zoo, Duncan is kept in his own space, separate from the other animals.
What does Duncan eat?
T. Rexes were carnivores, meaning that they ate other animals. They were like the Zoo's lions and leopards in that they hunted their prey.
Where does Duncan sleep at night?
He has a special area near the stage where he stays when he isn't in the show. It isn't open to the public and he isn't visible.
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