Grand Canyon Caverns to Adopt Cheesy Dinosaur Statue Booted Out of Historic Neighborhood in Orange County

zoomars dinosaur 1.jpg
Image: Capistrano Dispatch
"Juan" the apatosaurus replica is being evicted from his snooty California mission neighborhood and being moved to the Arizona's Grand Canyon Caverns.
A $12,000 dinosaur statue installed at an Orange County petting zoo last year is moving to Arizona after being evicted by snooty residents of a historic mission neighborhood.

Our state has long been a friend to cheesy dinosaur statues, from Holbrook to the Flintstones Bedrock City in Valle. Now we'll have one more, thanks to Californian history purists who don't want the thing.

Plans are being finalized, according to news reports today, to transport the 13-foot-tall, unwanted California apatasaurus replica to the Grand Canyon Caverns in northwest Arizona.

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Zoomars Petting Zoo owner Carolyn Franks and a California radio host A Martinez.
The 800-acre cavern park, which used to be called "Dinosaur City," already has a couple of less-than-amazing, though charming, statues of T-Rexes near its museum, so the unloved California dinosaur should feel more at ease.

Complaints began pouring in last year after Carolyn Franks, owner of the Zoomars Petting Zoo, had the dinosaur installed as a way to draw in crowds and excite kids.

Members of the Capistrano Historical Alliance Committee were among those who complained to the San Juan Capistrano City Council, which voted last week to kick the dinosaur out of the mission neighborhood. The structure must be removed by May 3.

Not everyone hated "Juan," as the statue was called. San Clemente resident Jason Pearson, whose children love the dinosaur, designed T-shirts for an unsuccessful "Save the Apatosaurus" movement.

Franks told California news media today that she'd decided to donate and transport the replica to the Grand Canyon Caverns at no cost.

San Juan Capistrano's loss is, well, the gain of whoever drives out to the middle-of-nowhere, where the Grand Canyon Caverns is located.

Bring us your tired, your huddles masses of low-quality dinosaur statutes -- somewhere in the Arizona desert, we'll find room for them.

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JohnQ.Public topcommenter

Why the hatin' on big ol' concrete dinosaurs.  Those dinosaurs by the outlets in Cabazon, CA ( have provided significant respite for many parents driving from PHX to LA with young children.  Just when the "are we there yet"s became enough to force a minivan driver off the road, to wander aimlessly in the desert forever, those 2 dinosaurs appeared magically on the horizon - giving the children a chance to run around and wear themselves out enough that the remainder of the drive was palatable.  So stop the hatin' - cheesy concrete dinosaurs can be very important.


As a resident of San Juan Capistrano, and one of the majority of supporters, there was never a flood of opposition or complaints. It took just one phone call to have the city start the process. There was never anything "illegal" about the dinosaur or it's installation. It was an apparent oversite due to it's foundation, a simple code violation, and that was only because Ms. Franks wanted to protect here customers by securing the statue to a concrete slab.There were never anymore than 2 dozen people that were against the placement of the dinosaur statue. These people however, had historical roots in the city, and seem to still have some political pull. So after months of meetings and Zoomars spending nearly $30,000,  the city council took the chickens way out. On a 2 to 2 split vote, that only said that they did not know if the statue was within the definition allowed within the historic district. Even with the majority of residents in support of the dinosaur statue, political pressure was applied and it appears that a back door deal was made, and that sealed it's fate.I for one plan on taking a trip to the Caverns to see him once he is installed. He will be a wonderful addition.


Wow. You need to get a new writer. I guess Ray must have been scared by a dinosaur when he was young, to have so much against one. What you see as "Cheesy" others see as wonderful and amazing. I must ask, why such a negative tone on the story? He also really does need to get his facts straight.


@wschrimp getting the facts straight isn't what ray stern is known for. he's not interested in "facts", he's interested in telling a story...maybe that's one of the reasons he got canned from the East Valley Tribune and now works for his wife.


It is obvious from this article that the writer misses the point on both the dinosaur, where it is going and the added value it brings to AZ,

Of course if he is NOT aware of the value Route 66 adds to his state then he needs to do some homework. Hopefully his future articles will contain some facts and not opinions.


Well of course the Dino will come to Arizona! It's just tacky enough to be well received here. Tacky is as tacky does.

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