When I was a kid my favorite thing every year was the Houston Museum of Natural Science's annual Dinomation. This was long before we had the amazing Morian Hall of Paleontology, and our dinosaur offerings were far more meager. Once a year, though, the museum turned into forest full of jerky, but still convincing prehistoric beasts brought to life as animatronic statues.
Photos by Lynda Rouner
It was pretty much the best thing ever.
The Houston Zoo is offering something similar through the end of August in the form of Extreme Bugs. The difference is that instead of showing us behemoths from before the time of man, the robots are common insects and arachnids. Bascially, the Zoo decided to recreate Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and while there are a few flaws, it's still an impressive sight.
The animatronics themselves are fantastic in their scope and majesty. An Emperor Scorpion is one of the very first of the robots to be encountered, and it is terrifying even for a grown person than can spot the pneumatics under the plastic. The poisonous tail towers easily twenty feet in the air, maybe more, and the front claws are the size of a motorcycle.
It's like a '50s horror movie come to life. A Madagascan Sunset Moth looms huge, flapping it's beautifully colored wings slowly and elegantly (The bright, diurnal moth is often mistaken for a butterfly according to the plaque in front of the giant). You're even allowed to control the movement of the giant Stag Beetle, which I encourage everyone to do while cackling madly and screaming, "Nothing in the world can stop me now!"More »