Stone brings Derby dinosaurs to life

Gale Rose
Gannett reporter
Zach Stone, lead performer for Field Station: Dinosaurs, points to the Tyrannosaurus costume as Jude Bowman , 5, gets an up-close look at the T-Rex during a performance at the Field Station: Dinosaurs, 2999 N. Rock Road, in Derby. The park features over 40 life-sized dinosaurs, live shows, a maze, Jurassic miniature golf course, and sand-pit fossil dig.

DERBY–Not many people can put dinosaur wrangler on their resume. But former Prattan Zach Stone can, and he says loves every minute of his current occupation.

Stone works at Field Station Dinosaurs in Derby where he (along with other staff) breathes life into 44 life-size dinosaurs on display. The tallest is brachiosaurus at 50 feet and sauroposeidon is longest at 90 feet.

Field Station Dinosaurs is not an amusement park. There are no rides. Stone said it is a working scientific expedition with the goal of giving visitors the spirit of wanting to be scientists. Stone’s job is to put on a multi-faceted performance teaching visitors about dinosaurs and paleontology. Paleontologist Jason Shine makes sure all information presented is accurate.

"We talk and sing and dance about dinosaurs, paleontology and science," Stone said.

Field station dinosaurs are made out of metal-framed bodies that are covered with a weather resist foam and hand carved, then covered with a liquid latex. While the dinosaurs don't walk, they all have some movement and they make sound.

Stone's day starts at 10 a.m. and he is done at 6 p.m. He may give up to 12 shows a day depending on the number of visitors at the station. When things are busy, he gets a 10 minute break between shows, which run 13 minutes and 22 seconds each. Crowd interaction is expected with each mini-musical show.

"I do tours and talk about dinosaurs. I'm on the go the whole time," Stone said. "The children's faces just light up. The parents have fun watching their kids faces," Stone said.

The normal season runs from Memorial Day to the weekend before school starts than they go to weekends only. They close after the first weekend in November then reopen after Thanksgiving.

Besides the show, there is miniature golf, matching games where visitors match the name of a paleontologist tool with the name, a name the dinosaur flash card game and a scavenger hunt. Visitors may also dig for fossils, bounce in the Jurassic Zoo, tour a Kansas underground display and try to survive raptor maze.

Stone was a student at Friends University in the performing arts department when he answered an audition call for Field Station Dinosaurs and was hired. He became the dinosaur wrangler and is the only one to have that position in the Station's three years of existence.

Field Station Dinosaurs is located at 2999 North Rock Road in Derby and this is their third season of operation. Their operating hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.