The Tyrannosaurus rex that once loomed over the escalator at the Pink Palace Museum has made an escape.
The nearly 40-foot-long skeleton replica known as Stan the T.rex has found a new home in the Netherlands.
The T.rex skeleton cast, which is worth $100,000, was on loan to the Pink Palace. A "Save the T.rex" campaign was introduced by the museum to keep the prehistoric skeleton cast, but less than $400 was raised.
"We are undergoing a master plan where we will, in the future, be redoing some of the exhibits in the Pink Palace, and we will be looking for an iconic piece like Stan the T.rex," said Ronda Cloud, the museum's marketing and public relations manager. "We raised a little less than $400 [to keep Stan], and it's gone into a fund for when we are ready to purchase one."
The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota loaned the replica to the Pink Palace. The Black Hills Institute retrieved the T.rex in July, before it was purchased by the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, a natural history museum in the Netherlands.
The Black Hills Institute, which holds the original skeleton of Stan the T.rex, creates skeleton castings to loan or sell to museums around the world.
"There are lots of museums that want to have a T.rex to display, but there aren't very many T.rex original skeletons to go around," said Bob Farrar, one of the owners of Black Hills Institute. "Stan is one of the better T.rex skeletons that's been collected, and museums around the world are happy to have a cast replica of Stan to display."
Stan's original skeleton was discovered in 1987 in northwestern South Dakota by paleontologist Stan Sacrison. It was excavated by the Black Hills Institute and rebuilt in 1992. The T.rex's remains are estimated to be more than 60 million years old.
The institute is one of a handful of museums across the country that owns an original T.rex skeleton. Farrar said even the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., displays a replica of Stan the T.rex.
The Pink Palace's T.rex replica stood near the entrance to Bella Caffe, inside the lobby, since June of last year. The Pink Palace retrieved the T.rex skeleton cast from a now-defunct museum in East Tennessee and brought it back to Memphis. It was then put on loan to the museum.
Since being sold, Cloud said various people have come in and inquired about the dinosaur's whereabouts.
"He was very popular while he was here," Cloud said. "He was a really good picture op if you were going up on the escalator. [If] somebody was standing down on the other side of Stan, they could take a picture of you through his rib cage, which was pretty cool."
Although Stan no longer towers in the Pink Palace, the museum is home to a new animatronic dinosaur, Tyra the T.rex. Cloud assures that Tyra's presence isn't intended to take the place of Stan.
"We probably won't be replacing that area with another dinosaur, because we're going to be redoing exhibits in the museum," Cloud said. "But we'll have something as cool as Stan the T.rex. In the meantime, we wish him well. We were thrilled to have Stan here for the short time he was here."