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updated: 4/30/2013 6:16 PM

SuperCroc exhibit opens Friday at Gail Borden library

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  • Video: SuperCrocs in Elgin

  • It took a handful of volunteers to put the head in place Monday as part of the SuperCroc exhibit was installed at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

       It took a handful of volunteers to put the head in place Monday as part of the SuperCroc exhibit was installed at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • Carl Gustafson, director of operations with Project Exploration, checks his work Monday at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

       Carl Gustafson, director of operations with Project Exploration, checks his work Monday at Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • Joe Cottral and Carl Gustafson of Project Exploration install two of the feet on the giant skeletal structure beneath the rotunda as the SuperCroc exhibit takes shape Monday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.

       Joe Cottral and Carl Gustafson of Project Exploration install two of the feet on the giant skeletal structure beneath the rotunda as the SuperCroc exhibit takes shape Monday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • A volunteer compares the size of his hand to that of the SuperCroc that will be on display in Elgin at the Gail Borden Public Library.

       A volunteer compares the size of his hand to that of the SuperCroc that will be on display in Elgin at the Gail Borden Public Library.
    Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

  • Joe Cottral of Project Exploration checks one of the fasteners Tuesday during the installation of the SuperCroc exhibit at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. The exhibit, which has been all over the world, is being shown for the first time at a library with this summer's stop. The exhibit took two days to assemble. The prehistoric creature lived between 50 and 60 years. Its skull was upward of 6 feet long.

       Joe Cottral of Project Exploration checks one of the fasteners Tuesday during the installation of the SuperCroc exhibit at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. The exhibit, which has been all over the world, is being shown for the first time at a library with this summer's stop. The exhibit took two days to assemble. The prehistoric creature lived between 50 and 60 years. Its skull was upward of 6 feet long.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • The installation of the SuperCroc exhibit continued Tuesday in Elgin.

       The installation of the SuperCroc exhibit continued Tuesday in Elgin.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Joe Cottral of Project Exploration, left, and Jim Keith of Red Box help move part of the tail during the installation Tuesday of the SuperCroc exhibit at the Gail Borden Public Library.

       Joe Cottral of Project Exploration, left, and Jim Keith of Red Box help move part of the tail during the installation Tuesday of the SuperCroc exhibit at the Gail Borden Public Library.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • "Like a glove," remarked Carl Gustafson, director of operations with Project Exploration, as he crawled out of the tail of the SuperCroc during the installation of the exhibit Tuesday at the Gail Borden Public Library in downtown Elgin.

       "Like a glove," remarked Carl Gustafson, director of operations with Project Exploration, as he crawled out of the tail of the SuperCroc during the installation of the exhibit Tuesday at the Gail Borden Public Library in downtown Elgin.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
By Christopher Hankins
chankins@dailyherald.com

If you find yourself with the urge to channel a Steve Irwin impression when you visit the Gail Borden Public Library this week, you're not alone.

The SuperCroc exhibit is being installed, and the massive skeletal structure of one of the giant beasts is already on display beneath the rotunda. Although the installation is largely handled by Chicago-based Project Exploration, an additional crew from the library and Elgin Public Museum also helped bring the pieces into place. The exhibit will feature 40-foot crocodiles that lived 110 million years ago.

"It's really exciting to see people's reactions to watching us put the things up and then to actually watching them interact with it," said Carl Gustafson, director of operations for Project Exploration, which rents the exhibit to the library.

As the pieces of several giant crocodiles were installed throughout the normally quiet facility, patrons and even library staff gathered around the exhibits to watch the work and even take pictures and video.

"We were so thankful that the Grand Victoria Foundation gave us a challenge grant to bring this (exhibit) in," said Denise Raleigh, public relations and development chief at the library. "We were able to bring in a number of sponsors that came in along with it and really stepped up to the plate and said yes, we want this exhibit in our community."

Paul Sereno of Project Exploration will present the exhibit to the community at 7:30 p.m. Friday. It runs through Aug. 18 at the main library, 270 N. Grove Ave.

Raleigh said she's hoping the draw of the giant crocs will fuel the imagination of kids and get them interested in the library's summer reading program. Last summer more than 4,000 kids participated. Raleigh would like the SuperCroc exhibit to prompt kids to read about the prehistoric animals and anything else that inspires them during summer break.

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