Stuart Flynn and his wife, Buffy, have only had Dino the Sinclair dinosaur in their yard for about 18 months.
But in that time, he’s become an icon in their north Cheyenne neighborhood, regularly a subject of photographs and selfies. Dino (like the name of the Flintstones’ pet dinosaur) is a green aluminum statue apatosaurus weighing about 150 pounds.
“I’ve always had a dream of owning a Sinclair dinosaur and it was going to happen someday,” Flynn told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. “So last year, we were traveling through Minnesota and I saw a Bob’s Big Boy for sale at this statue place. When we got there, I saw they had a Sinclair dinosaur.”
But Dino’s popularity has a downside, as evidenced when he “dino-napped” from the Flynns’ front yard over the weekend.
Flynn said he believes Dino was kidnapped sometime in the middle of the night on July 9, but in any case, by the time he and his wife returned home from a Minnesota visit on July 10, the dinosaur was gone.
“We pulled into the driveway and saw Dino was gone,” Flynn said. “So at first, I checked with my neighbors and some friends, making sure no one was jerking my chain, because who steals a dinosaur? I was just flabbergasted.”
Unfortunately, it was not a joke. Dino was gone.
So, Flynn does what most people do when things go missing these days: he posted about the dinosaur caper on Facebook.
The story, from there, took off. Flynn could not believe it, but the Cheyenne community was invested in the kidnapping of Dino the dinosaur. One woman even asked if she could start a GoFundMe campaign to help replace Dino, if he was not found.
“It brought joy to my heart knowing I had brought joy to them with these statues,” Flynn said. “I couldn’t believe we were all rallying around a dinosaur. But it was just kind of symbolic, this thing that could bring us all together.”
Monday went by with no word of Dino’s whereabouts. But Tuesday morning, as Buffy left to go to work, she saw something that made her run back to the bedroom.
“She said, ‘Dino’s back, Dino’s back!'” Flynn said.
The dinosaur had been left by some community mailboxes near the Flynn home. Other than some scratches that indicated he’d been bounced around in a pickup truck, the dinosaur was unharmed.
Flynn quickly took to Facebook to let everyone know Dino had been returned.
He said he believes the perpetrators of the heinous abduction were some drunk people who came around in the middle of the night on Saturday and stole Dino. He also thinks the community uproar in support of the missing dinosaur led to its more prompt return.
“I think he ended up in a garage for a couple days and they realized, ‘We have got to get this thing out of here,’ so they brought him back,” Flynn said. “I was thinking he’d show up in a park somewhere, but instead, they brought him back to the house and pushed him out. I was just so excited that morning.”
Flynn said he expects to fix Dino up with some “John Deere green paint” and have him back out in the front yard by this weekend. Dino will also soon be wearing a saddle and cowboy hat to celebrate Cheyenne Frontier Days.
Flynn also said he plans to take Dino down to Freedom’s Edge Brewing Company in Cheyenne to celebrate his return.
“It’s so funny people rallied behind this green dinosaur, but I’m grateful that they did,” Flynn said. “So many people bash Cheyenne, but I think this is a great town and great community and lots of good people here. This just showed there was more good here than evil.”
According to the Sinclair Oil Company, fiberglass versions of Dino the dinosaur have been stationed at Sinclair gas stations for photo opportunities since the 1960s.
Sinclair’s advertising writers began using dinosaurs in their marketing materials since 1930, as they were promoting lubricants refined from crude oil believed to have been created by the decomposing bodies of dinosaurs.