This is the year for dragons thanks to the ever-popular Harry Potter series, Game of Thrones and Pokemon, and Brookfield Zoo is giving visitors an even better way to uncover the mysteries of the creatures at its new Dinos & Dragons extravaganza opening Saturday, May 6.

Not only will you come nose to nose with a fascinating tongue-flicking 6-foot Komodo dragon, a first-timer at the zoo, but Brookfield Zoo has placed uber-knowledgeable interpreters throughout a temperature-controlled tent to let you touch and really get to know smaller dragons and lizards.

Kids will especially love digging for dino bones or trying their skill at tiny catapults, but everyone will walk out of the tent learning something.

Outside, 17 animatronic dinosaurs (and a few dragons) come to life, with roars and even a little smoke. Again, like the inside exhibit, the dino trail is all about interaction, with its Game of Bones spinoff fun of Dinopardy, Dino Feud and Are You Smarter Than A Paleontologist. Even if you’ve visited Brookfield Zoo’s other dinosaur exhibits before, this year’s is all-new and includes giant dragons, such as the Wyvern and a Chinese dragon that looks like an oversized Mu-Shu from Disney’s Mulan.

“This year we wanted people to understand the link between science and mythology,” said Andre Copeland, the zoo’s interpretive programs manager. “We also wanted people to understand the importance of imagination on science and scientific discovery.

“This is why we decided to pair dinosaurs and real-life dragons,” Copeland added. “What we want people to walk away with is that science is a continuous quest for the truth.”

Copeland says the exhibit is a nod to the huge role dinosaurs and dragons have on our culture.

“You can start to see how these mythical creatures play an important role in our entertainment, our literature and our art. Dinosaurs are the same way,” he said. “These larger-than-life creatures connect us to our past.”

Find Dinos & Dragons between the Hamill Family Wild Encounters and BZ Red Hots through Sept. 17.

Admission to Dinos & Dragons is $3 for kids 3-11 and seniors 65 and over and $5 for adults. General zoo admission is $14.50 for kids 3-11 and seniors 65 and over and $19.85 for adults, not including parking. More information is available at