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So Long, Juan from The Capistrano Dispatch on Vimeo.

By Brian Park

As quietly as it had entered into town, Juan the Zoomars dinosaur made its exit from San Juan Capistrano Tuesday, bringing to an end a nearly yearlong controversy over its place in the Los Rios Historic District.

A small crew began disassembling the 13-foot-tall, 40-foot-long apatosaurus replica Tuesday morning at Zoomars Petting Zoo—the same crew that initially installed the structure last June.

Workers disassemble the apatosaurus replica at Zoomars Petting Zoo. The same workers also installed the structure last June, according to owner Carolyn Franks. Photo by Brian Park
Workers disassemble the apatosaurus replica at Zoomars Petting Zoo. The same workers also installed the structure last June, according to owner Carolyn Franks. Photo by Brian Park

“I’m sad and angry. I’m hurt and disappointed,” Zoomars owner Carolyn Franks said. On April 2, Franks’ appeal to save the dinosaur replica failed to pass on the City Council’s tie vote. The city gave Franks until Friday to remove the structure.

“It was a bad deal. It was the wrong decision and it’s really unfortunate,” Franks said. “No one can understand it. It makes no sense. Who takes a dinosaur away from kids?”

Once fully disassembled into seven pieces, the dinosaur will be placed onto a truck and sent to its new home at the Grand Canyon Caverns, located on historic Route 66, in Peach Springs, Ariz. The caverns encompass 800 acres and are known to be the largest collection of dry caverns in the country. The attraction was formerly known as “Dinosaur City,” and it still features several dinosaur replicas.

Mike Kadletz, co-owner of the Grand Canyon Caverns, was on hand to oversee its transportation. The Zoomars dinosaur will be the first new addition to the dinosaur exhibit since Kadletz and his partners bought the attraction 11 years ago. Once it is reassembled, Kadletz said the dinosaur will feature LED lighting in its mouth and eyes. He added that its name will change from Juan to “Zoomie,” to acknowledge its former home.

“I think on our brochure, we’ll also have the mileage to Zoomars Petting Zoo from our place,” Kadletz said. “Carolyn chose the name. It’s her baby, so we’ll stick with it.”

Zoomars owner Carolyn Franks displays a box of broken plaster and fiberglass from the apatosaurus replica. Photo by Brian Park
Zoomars owner Carolyn Franks displays a box of broken plaster and fiberglass from the apatosaurus replica. Photo by Brian Park

While holding a box filled with broken pieces of plaster and fiberglass from the dinosaur, Frank said although she is sad she wasn’t able to keep the structure, she’s glad she found it a fitting home.

“It’s sort of a happy ending. He’s sort of getting a promotion from Los Rios Street to historic Route 66, where millions of people will love him,” Franks said. “It will be great for the Grand Canyon Caverns too. It will help their business like it helped mine.”

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comments (1)

  • Pamela & Jim Schuler

    DINORSAUR REMAINS INCLUDING LARGE BONES WERE FOUND TEN MINUTES FROM SAN JUAN CITY HALL IN 1986. DINORSAUR REMAINS WERE ALSO FOUND AND RECORDING IN THE EARLY 1900’S IN IRVINE WHICH IS ALSO TEN MINUTES FROM SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO. THESE ARE THE SAME DINOSAURS THAT USED TO FLY AROUND AND SWIM IN SAN JUAN CREEK LOOKING FOR A PIECE OF LAND THAT THEY COULD ENJOYL. FOR SOMEONE TO BE SO SURE THERE WERE NOT ANY DINORSAURS IN SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO 200 MILLION YEARS AGO, WOULD MEAN THAT THEY HAD BEEN THERE IN A PREVIOUS LIFE. PEOPLE SEEM TO FORGET THAT THIS DINOSAUR IS JUST A SYMBOL, LIKE A PHOTO, OF ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ANIMALS TO WALK THIS EARTH.

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