Group working to bring Louisville's lost dinosaur back from extinction

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville is no stranger to iconic, oversized statement pieces that stop you in your tracks. Think of the Louisville Slugger bat or the David statue on Main Street. But hidden in the California Neighborhood, something large lurks beyond the train tracks, just behind the dumpsters: Lottie the Louisville dinosaur.

The fiberglass triceratops stands 10 feet tall and is worn and weathered by the elements. Once drawing crowds, she's now all by her lonesome waiting to be uncovered.

"We're all just people who would like to see the situation she's currently in improve," said Rocko Jerome, a paleontologist of sorts who re-discovered Lottie about a year ago.

Since then it's been his mission to restore the dingy dino, creating the group "Operation CARLOT," which stands for Community Action to Rescue Louisville's Own Triceratops.

So where did she come from and how did she get here? Lottie's story begins more than 50 years ago. She was one of nine fiber glass dinosaurs created as part of an exhibit by the Sinclair oil company for the World's Fair in 1964.

"People came from all over the world, they flocked to this. They had this thing called the Dinosaur Pavilion," said Jerome.

Then Lottie hit the road, traveling all over the U.S. The dinosaurs made stops along the way, including in Louisville, where she was eventually gifted to the city. Lottie lived at the Louisville Zoo for a while before being moved to the Kentucky Science Center, where she stayed until about 10 years ago.

"She was displayed in our parking lot in the past and cars ran into her. So that wasn't a good place for her," said Dave Bell with the Kentucky Science Center.

So now this cretaceous creature calls the California neighborhood home, hidden away and forgotten until now.

"We just want to improve the situation that she's in, and create something else that people can be enthused about in Louisville," said Jerome.

He and his group are working with the Science Center and other local organizations to bring Lottie back to a place of prominence. But finding space for a life-sized dinosaur is no easy task.

"We have ownership of her, and at this present time we don't have space to display her. She is a life-sized triceratops and takes up a lot of space," said Bell.

Until that space is found, the group is focused on getting the word out with plans to eventually raise funds to fix her up.

"Her tail is broken. I understand they have the piece of the tail so it can be reattached. She also sustained damage on one of her front legs," said Jerome.

A meeting is planned for early December to further discuss Lottie's future. As far as her location, the group wants to keep that information secret so as not to risk her safety.

Click here to learn more about the Louisville triceratops.

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