We followed dispatch agent Dina to find out what a typical day wrangling dinosaurs is like.
When I clock in first thing the triceratops are typically grouchy and utahraptors hyper. All our animals are
fed before shipment so they’re good and sleepy for the trip, but that means I’m a glorified dinosaur caterer half the time. After downing my coffee, I still feel sleepy somehow, which is why I try not to make eye contact with the utahraptors.
And so begins the first crisis of the day: Trey rushes up and tells me that someone split steroids over the stegasaurus kibble. They’ll be more energetic when they arrive, but we need to make sure they don’t wake up and try to walk around on the plane. We don’t need another catastrophe like the one we had in May 2011! That one was hard to explain to the NTSB.
Our assistant compliance officer Don asks me how we’re going to weigh our brachiosaurus when the scales are broken. It was yesterday’s 76-ton patagotitan that probably did them in. I send him to the warehouse next door with a note asking if they’ve got any dinosaur weighing scales. In the meantime, Sara asks me to respond about a returned crate. It’s labelled “Triceratops”, but the customer says it’s a teenage torosaurus. Easy mix up to make. The only difference is the lack of a long nasal horn in torosaurus and sometimes juvenile triceratops are late bloomers and haven’t grown into their nasal horn yet.
I’m now urgently trying to dole out orders to Sara, but one of the loading machines in the back is making such a racket preparing the crates that I can only hear every third word. Trey appears panicked, yelling that the loading machine isn’t broken, but that there is an escaped Spinosaurus that hasn’t been fed yet! The 59 foot long semi-aquatic predator is now top priority. Its 7 ft sail is stuck in the door to the lunchroom and the hungry reptile is moaning in hunger and pain. The sail is full of tiny nerves as it is used for thermal regulation and quite tender. Luckily the frustrated animal isn’t able to squeeze into the lunchroom, so my carefully packed lunch of fish fingers and pea soup is safe! Sara calmly unloads three tranquilizer darts into the Spinosaurus. Trey then gingerly wraps the animal in a harness as I bring the fork lift over to get the 49 foot therapod back in its crate. I left it with its typical mid-day meal… two bathtubs full of farm raised salmon and squid. This time I made sure the crate was secured and loaded it onto the departing container ship myself. Now it is someone else’s problem. Time for my well-deserved pea soup!
I was about to tuck into my soup and fish fingers when a guy in a hazmat suit stumbled in with a dog leash. He handed me a note from Don that identified him as the new intern, Russ. I ask why the yellow plastic getup. He gasps “dilophosaur delivery” through his mask. I sigh and tell him to go change, reminding him that dilophosaurs don’t actually spit and a German Shepherd leash won’t fit an animal 19ft long. Don was clearly playing some sort of prank on the newbie. Russ clumsily knocked my food to the floor as he waddled out.
No time for clean-up because Trey is in a panic again. He misread the kibble label – although our stegosaurs will be okay on the flight, our stegoceras, which have bony skulls 2 inches thick, are now full of steroids and might ram the fence with their heads. I’d better go take a look.
All good – I forgot we reinforced that pen after the ankylosaur breakout last year. Zuul ankylosaurs aren’t called the “shin-destroyers” for nothing. Their club tails are over seven feet long! No one actually knows if stegoceras head-butt their enclosures, but I’ve assigned Trey to keep watch of the new arrivals.
I came back to the canteen to find my food disappearing down the neck of a pteranodon that’s somehow on the loose. Thankfully it’s juvenile with an adorable 9ft wingspan, but it could still squeeze in the lunch room and snatch my fish fingers. The pteranodons love fried fish, but it is terrible for them. I don’t want to tranquilize it if we can avoid it, because it’s only 25kg. We’ll have to lasso its beak and throw a big blanket over it. It’s about the size of a German Shepherd, so maybe Russ can help after all!
The pteranodon has finally calmed down, but it took me, Sara, Don and Trey to pin its wings under the blanket. Russ looks pleased we used his leash, but I haven’t forgiven him for my lunch.
Good news! The warehouse next door has delivered scales for our brachiosaurus. It’s good for up to 80 tons, which is great because this one is only 65. We can now ship her on schedule!
Or not. Our sauropod crate is good for a 90ft by 13ft diplodocus, but our brachiosaurus is 82ft by 30ft. We’ll have to slide the lid back a little.
I took a call from a problem utahraptor customer in the Chicago suburbs. Because of previous shipments, his neighbor is wise to us and has placed an electric fence around his home. Don says we should go bigger. We’ve shipped our spinosaurus to an unsuspecting London office already, so that leaves the giganotosaurus. It’s 43ft long, loves to chew on sauropods, and can run up to 31mph. I have visions of it chasing the brachiosaurus shipment that’s finally left. Sara suggests we send them to the customer’s workplace, but it’s a kindergarten and puppy rescue. We’re not monsters.
Eureka! Russ has a genius idea. We’ll send lots of little dinos to fit through the fence. Swift, snappy compsognathus are one of the smallest, and at 5.5kg each they’ll be easier to ship. The customer says, “Perfect! That’ll show him for reporting me to the homeowner’s association.”
It’s a tough job, but happy customers make it all worthwhile.