New Dinosaur Education Centre Brings the Past Back to the Future

Posted on 1 April, 2019

Did you know that the oldest dinosaur nesting site was discovered in the Free State’s Golden Gate Highlands National Park? A few years ago, palaeontologists found 10 nests containing 34 eggs and skeletons which are thought to be over 190 million years old. With a new species of giant dinosaur also recently being found nearby, it is fitting that the area’s Jurassic roots are now being immortalised with a dedicated dinosaur education centre in the National Park for future generations to enjoy.

Since July last year, specialists in construction, renovation and restoration, GVK-Siya Zama, in partnership with Leteketa Construction, have been hard at work on the R83.5 million project that will see the construction of an interpretive centre, activity node, look-out point and exhibition areas.

The centre will feature a lecture hall, class rooms, laboratories, offices and a café, together with temporary, permanent and community displays. Exhibition areas will enable visitors to see the spot where the nesting site and eggs were found and, as these were discovered in a strip of rock, guests can also learn via displays about the secrets that rocks can reveal and what fossils are. A 3-D printed egg, replica of a nest (complete with life-size dinosaur models) and ‘dinosaur bush safari’ will undoubtedly draw the crowds. A special extinction area will also be erected, where guests will be taught all about the link between birds and dinosaurs.

GVK-Siya Zama Regional Business Development Manager, Ndzulu Twantwa, believes that the company was selected to work on this project because of its vast experience in the construction and restoration of landmark buildings with highly detailed finishes. This attention to detail can be seen in the wood-look finish of the concrete and the external brickwork being laid to mimic dinosaur scales.

Complementing the GVK-Siya Zama crew are 26 people from the local community who have been employed and trained in working at heights, scaffold erecting, basic firefighting, using power tools and first aid. Additionally, the company has engaged the services of local subcontractors and suppliers - the majority of which are Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises.

“I hope that the resulting building will serve as a constant reminder to Free State residents of the wonders of their province and entice more tourists to the region,” concludes Twantwa. The project is due to be completed and open to the public early in 2020.

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