Road Test: Jurassic Garage
Part of the wonder of being a parent is doing things you wouldn't normally do. For example, having a snake cuddle into the crook of my neck or cooing over a spider - which is what I was doing with my toddler on a Sunday afternoon at an industrial building in Chai Wan.
Jurassic Garage took reptiles, amphibians and critters to schools, birthday parties and corporate events for several years before it succumbed to requests for a venue that people could visit. The 4,000 sq ft unit houses a range of animals in glass enclosures, and offers hands-on experience that might not work at outside venues.
The event I attended drew about 10 families with children ranging from toddlers to primary schoolers. Initially, everyone had wandered around looking at the animals. Then, a dreadlocked man named Goatee Toni had us gather around and put a candy cane corn snake and an okeetee corn snake on the table. Some adults flinched; most of the children were unfazed. Some had experienced this before and identified the snakes by their names - Karin and Richard - and reached out to hold them. My toddler was content to look but not touch. Later, he was charmed by a hissing cockroach, the only creature he would handle.
The snakes were followed by succession of species, all introduced briefly. The information on the animals listed interesting characteristics but wasn't simplified for the children, who seemed to understand regardless. I even got a mini-lecture on the axolotl from one young girl who had had Jurassic Garage over for her birthday party. There were plenty of chances to hold or feel the snakes, blue tongued skinks, bearded dragons, frogs, sugar gliders and spiders. The children loved feeding the giant African tortoise and picking up hedgehogs with a towel. The snapper dragon with its fearsome bite elicited oohs and aahs.
The venue is child friendly with a clean toilet and even a baby-changing facility. It can be booked for parties and events and has a studio for having professional photos taken with the animals. The team brings animals to your home for a private experience or to a school or an event venue.
Verdict: a great learning experience for adults and children of all ages.