By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 23, 2023 at 10:04 AM

The Milwaukee County Zoo has just opened a new exhibit and even though the weather is heating up, this one may give you the chills.


Dino Don’s "Journey to the Ice Age" – an outdoor, animatronic adventure – will transport you back to prehistoric times, when giant beasts, like saber-toothed tigers, woolly mammoths, short-faced bears and the especially alarmingly named “Giant Rodent,” roamed the planet.

The special exhibit, which is located behind the Small Mammals building, costs $4 and will be open daily through Oct. 7.

It was created by Pennsylvania-based Dino Don natural exhibitions which also created previous animatronic exhibits at the zoo that featured dinosaurs and dragons.

ice ageX
ice ageX

There are nearly two dozen life-size moving creatures from North America, South America, Eurasia and Australia in the exhibit and some of them are 25 feet long!

These extinct megafauna breathe and roar and growl, wag their tails, shake their heads, turn their gaze toward patrons and move their jaws. In most cases, the movement is pretty tame and is unlikely to terrorize even the most timid of tots.

Some of the highlights are the iconic elephantine woolly mammoths, the short-faced bear – which was among the largest carnivores ever to walk the land in North America – and the large vulture-like teratorn, which was likely a scavenger, feeding on carcasses.

There’s also a massive cheetah, a colossal Australian snake called a wonambi and toxodon, one of the largest and most common South American hoofed creatures during its era.

Then there’s the "Giant Rodent," which was the size of a horse with massive teeth that could chomp down with a force as high as 936 pounds per square inch ... triple the munch power of modern tigers.

giant rodent
The "Giant Rodent."

Thankfully, it doesn’t look anything like a rat and is actually sorta cute.

At the end of the walk is a tented gift shop that sells everything from books to saber tooth tiger tees and plush woolly mammoth toys.


You can buy tickets at the zoo or in advance at

The exhibit is open during regular zoo hours, which are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, through May 26; 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, May 27-Sept. 4; and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, Sept. 5-Oct. 7.

Admission to "Journey to the Ice Age" closes 45 before zoo closing time.

Additional educational activities are slated for the exhibit on June 5, July 8 and Aug. 19.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.