This spring, about 100 tons of lifelike, robotic dinosaur creations were heaved out of more than 14 truck-trailers in massive pieces and spread across a lot at Brookfield Zoo for assembly in a special summertime exhibit scheduled to open in July.

Covid-19 precautions may have delayed the project for six weeks, but it’ll take more than a pandemic to stop these pre-historic creatures from coming to Chicagoland – thanks to the ingenuity and brute power of CE Rentals’ lifting machines.

A monstrous exhibit of realistic and life-size dinosaurs will go on as planned at Brookfield Zoo, despite a six-week pandemic delay – thanks to the heavy-duty equipment, consulting and project management provided by Contractors Equipment Rentals (CE Rentals) They’re a Chicagoland construction equipment rental store that brought strong telehandlers and industrial grounds protecting surfaces to Brookfield Zoo throughout April and May to unload the huge exhibit. 

On loan from Dino Don, Inc., [] and created by “Jurassic Park” advisor Don Lessem, the exhibit features 46 full-sized robotic dinosaurs, including the world debut of the largest dinosaur that ever lived, a 120-foot-long Argentinosaurus. “It’s the largest accurate robotic dinosaur ever assembled,” says Lessem. Sneak previews of the dinosaurs are on their social media channels, (including Instagram, Facebook and YouTube)


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“I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to be a part of bringing a world-class exhibit like this to our hometown zoo, says CE Rentals Owner Robert Sloan. “Yeah, we’re known for having excellent, affordable rental equipment inventory with free local delivery, but to be able to serve the Brookfield Zoo ‘at such a time as this’ is meaningful to us – not pre-historic; just historic … given everything we’ve all been through this year.”

It was a sight to behold as massive, pre-historic-looking heads, bodies and limbs were lifted from more than 14 truck trailers and staged across an empty parking lot, later to be hauled into their temporary “wilderness” habitats and assembled for the enjoyment of the soon-to-be-liberated Chicago-area public. Some final sewing – yes, sewing! – and final-touch painting finished off the spectacular arrangement of the artificial beasts.

The exhibit seen at the Bronx Zoo in 2019 as well as the Jacksonville Zoo this year, is currently scheduled to open at the beginning of July at BZ without a hitch because CE Rentals was in the right place at the right time with the right resources.

CE Rentals Field Sales Representative Dave Gordon made a connection last summer with BZ Manager of Exhibits Ron May to demo a pothole-patching product, for which CE Rentals is the sole Illinois distributor. While the zoo’s budget didn’t have room for the City-of-Chicago-tested AquaPatch solution at present, they later called on CE Rentals for the critical mission of lifting a 2+-ton rhino – no mistakes allowed.

CE Rentals referred the zoo to Randall Industries, also in Elmhurst, to provide the larger telehandler required for lifting – and once that mission was perfectly accomplished, CE Rentals was the first place May called when the dinosaur exhibit was ready to move into place early in March.

Like the managers of a traveling band – comprised of multi-ton rockstars – the exhibit’s ownership didn’t have the local Rolodex of resources for putting this act together.

That’s where Gordon came in, who has planned and worked on some of the largest construction trade shows in the U.S., as well as local municipal summerfests. Gordon poured on the value-add, helping the dino exhibit staff find local welding resources, as well as procuring a nearby massive crane able to hoist one especially portly, 30-ton species. 

The CE Rentals team member was even able to provide some steep savings to the assembly project, where no budgetary wiggle-room was available from BZ – which, these days, is laser focused just on feeding its animals every day.

“They thought they were going to have to tear down some fencing in one spot to get one dinosaur positioned correctly,” says Gordon. “It would have cost an extra $8,000 to take the fence down and then reinstall it. I could see a way where they didn’t have to go to that extreme – with a little turning while they moved forward, we got the big parts in place and saved a large sum of money in the process.”


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