Dinosaur park shamed into upgrading its shrubbery

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The Independent Online

To the old entertainment saying that working with children or animals should be avoided, one further category must now be added: prehistoric herbaceous borders.

To the old entertainment saying that working with children or animals should be avoided, one further category must now be added: prehistoric herbaceous borders.

That was the lesson for a Welsh dinosaur theme park yesterday after its owners were left with a £100,000 bill for upgrading their vegetation to authentic prehistoric standards.

The owners of the Dan-y-Ogof Cave Complex and Dinosaur Park were forced into the extensive replanting after falling foul of a particularly pedantic group of Jurassic period experts: five-year-olds. Such was the volume of high-pitched complaints from infant visitors about the modern planting surrounding the 41 exhibits, including a Tyrannosaurus rex, 30 feet (9 metres) tall, that managers agreed to fly in palms, trees and ferns to satisfy their exacting clientele.

Ashford Price, who runs the park in Abercrave, south Wales, blamed modern television. He said: "With programmes like the BBC's Walking With Dinosaurs on TV, children know where these animals came from, what they ate and how they moved. They often point out that the vegetation is not correct, which is why we've decided to source vegetation from the period they represent."

To keep the aspiring palaeontologists happy, a £44,000 consignment of giant ferns from New Zealand is currently making its way to the park. It will be followed by the end of the year by a further £60,000-worth of gingko trees, giant palms from Australia and exotic tree ferns.

The park, which claims to be Britain's biggest dinosaur attraction, is visited by about 30,000 children a year on school trips – most brandishing reference books to check the models.

Worried staff, aware of archaeological advances that have shown dinosaurs to be more agile and athletic than previously thought, have also called in posture experts to check the models and forestall further complaints.

A weary Mr Price said: "It's the five-year-olds who know most. It was a five-year-old who pointed out that the ripping claw of one of our models was wrong. When we looked it up, he was quite right. It had to be changed."

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