Competition brings Starkville student's dinosaur to life

Mary Holland Nicholas, 9, from Starkville Academy, stands beside a stegosaurus painted with her “rainbowsaurus” design in the Jackson Zoo. (Submitted photo)
Staff Writer

Starkville Academy student Mary Holland Nicholas, 9, was surprised with a life-sized version of her own dinosaur design at the Jackson Zoo.

Nicholas' teacher, Eliza Miller, encouraged her students to design their own dinosaur for the statewide Jackson Zoo "Design a Dino" art contest. The submissions were entered in March, and the Nicholas family was invited to an opening ceremony for the new Jackson Zoo Dinos 2017 exhibit on April 1.

"When we heard that I was a finalist, we headed out to Jackson," Nicholas said. "When I heard that I won, I was very surprised."

Nicholas was even more surprised when the zoo unveiled a life-sized model of a stegosaurus decorated with her design — which she named the "rainbowsaurus."

"They said, 'Here's our winner, let's go see her dinosaur,''" Nicholas said. "They had turned my dinosaur into a life-sized stegosaurus, and I was really surprised."

Nicholas' family was also given four free passes to see the new dinosaur exhibit.

Jackson Zoo Dinos 2017 opened on April 1, when Nicholas' stegosaurus design was revealed, and will end on July 2. There are more than 12 free-standing exhibits that move, breathe, and even spit water within sight of guests. The limited time event adds $2 per entry to daily admission.