Shropshire Star

Woolly rhino skull to join Telford's Exotic Zoo collection for first ever Fossil Festival

A Shropshire zoo is getting ready to hold its first fossil festival.


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Telford Exotic Zoo is preparing to turn back the clock to the prehistoric era with the launch of its first-ever fossil festival.

The Telford Town Park attraction said the festival is the next evolution for the zoo, which opened its own Natural History Museum on site last year.

The festival will see three new exhibits added to the museum's collection, including a 130-year-old dinosaur footprint unearthed by zoo owner Scott Adams on the Isle of Wight last year.

The footprint will be joined by a huge, and very real, woolly rhino skull.

Perhaps not as well-known as their woolly mammoth counterparts, woolly rhinos were found throughout Northern Asia and parts of Europe.

Exotic Zoo is adding three new prehistoric pieces to its collection in preparation for its first-ever fossil festival

Their distribution extended from Scotland to as far as South Korea, with researchers believing that they had the largest range of any known rhino species.

Scientists believe that they appeared around 350,000 years ago and survived the last Ice Age, with some carbon dating placing them on Earth as recently as 8,000BC.

A brand new, 100 per cent real and 120 million-year-old Jeholosaurus skeleton will also be joining the museum collection.

"We've been planning this for a while," explained Scott.

"It's really important for us to have a museum as part of the zoo for visitors to understand the animals we have around us today. The Fossil Festival is part of that. We want to excite our visitors about natural history, and teach them where life has come from and how we can all protect it."

For the duration of the festival, which will take place on Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2, the new exhibits will be placed in the zoo's classroom, so visitors can get up close and personal with the remains.

"Usually these kinds of things would go straight into the cabinets and you'd have to look at them behind glass. But they're going to be out on display in the classroom so people can get right up to them and take photographs with them," Scott said.

The festival will also include a range of fossil stalls and talks, including one from a paleo-artist who will talk to visitors about his work to bring dinosaurs back to life.

The fossil festival will be free with the zoo's normal entry price over the weekend.