Blog

Our Dino in China: Winny is off to Beijing

By: Mr David Bock, Category: At The Museum, Date: 13 Jul 2012

Our puppet dinosaur, Winny the Muttaburrasaurus, is on a mission to the Beijing Museum of Natural History. Dino Operator and Visitor Events Co-ordinator David Bock discusses preparations.

Winny Saur

Ellen McCormack © Australian Museum

What do you do when your boss says, "You're going to China"?

In a mili-second your mind goes, "Wow". Mao, Great Wall, Forbidden Cities, Terracotta Warriors, and a billion neighbours. Then you wonder why. As usual the bosses are going overseas to organise touring exhibitions.

I get told to go to China to be a dinosaur.

Obviously I was not meant to take this personally. We have a fantastic puppet dinosaur called Winny. As soon as you say the words "puppet dinosaur", however, people think of a sock puppet. It's cute but a little problematic when trying to justify a trip for a sock.

But Winny is actually the sort of puppet that might appear in Walking with Dinosaurs. You actually wear her. She was made by the group Erth and people interact with her as if she is a real live animal.

It turns out I get to take Winny to China to do some shows at the Beijing Museum of Natural History. The idea is that we want to build a relationship between the two museums to swap exhibitions with each other in the future.

In other words, Winny is going to be a diplomat to create friendships. She is the Henry Kissinger of the dinosaurs world!

This will be an interesting adventure for me. Beijing in July wearing a dinosaur suit.

The show itself is a bit like a keeper talk at a zoo. We look at Winny's behaviour, diet and even her droppings. All clues that palaeontologists attempt to understand from fossil bones and poo (although they are scientists and require a longer word so it's 'Coprolite' if you chat to one).

Logistics

Winny weighs about 35 kilos so she doesn't get to go in the luggage or overhead compartment. If we wanted a seat we'd have to get one of those double wide ones that airlines say they are going to put in for our fattening society. Even then, at over 4 metres long she'd need some extra leg room too. So we had a flight case built and sent her over first. Maybe it's like the Olympics and she needs to be acclimatised?

Learn more about Winny the Dinosaur Puppet