PICTURE GALLERY: Dinosaurs rampage through family fun day in Swanton Morley

Hundreds of children were left screaming when some fearsome Australian visitors rampaged through a quiet village's family fun day today.

The thrills were provided by Erth's dinosaur petting zoo, which used life-sized puppets to give Swanton Morley youngsters a vivid impression of some of the creatures that roamed Australia and the Antarctic millions of years ago.

The group, which visited the village's dinosaur-themed event on Sunday May 20 in conjunction with the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, also showed off genuine dinosaur fossils from Down Under.

Enthusiastic children volunteered to feed, hug and calm down some of the beasts, including the ferocious Australavenator, which later escaped from its tent and tore around the playing field.

Six-year-old Nia Askham from Toftwood enjoyed a close encounter with a rather cuter minmi paravertebra after the performance.

She said: 'It's really, really cool. They are really interesting. They were really scary but I was a brave girl. I was not petrified.'

Dereham resident Jack Woods, eight, visited with his brother Samuel, five. He said: 'I just saw a dinosaur and I got to touch it. If I was scared I knew it was a herbivore so I knew it was not going to eat me.'

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Lindsey Chapman, the self-described dinosaur wrangler, said the group was formed about 20 years ago to make dinosaur puppets for museums, and the petting zoo started off as a joke a decade ago but has now toured China, South Korea and the UK.

She said: 'There's a beautiful village vibe in Swanton Morley. These guys are pumped for us to be here. They have made the whole dinosaur theme.

'Just seeing the children going from 'It's just a puppet' to seeing it as a real dinosaur on the stage – seeing the twinkle in their eyes when they realise it's responding to them. It's not a robot – it's alive.'

Parish clerk Faye Lebon said: 'This is certainly one of the most unusual events Swanton Morley has ever seen and it looks like it will be one of the most popular ones. I think we have put Swanton Morley on the map and we have shown people what we are capable of.'

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