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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Davis Triceratops community offers new ways to socialize through scavenger hunts

The online community crochets tiny dinosaurs and hides them in discrete locations around campus for students to find.

By KRISTIN TRENT — campus@theaggie.org


Despite the extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago, triceratops have been popping up around the UC Davis campus. Crocheted by hand, these fuzzy and colorful triceratops are the work of a community known as Davis Triceratops. Formed over winter break in 2021, founder Jennine Eng, a second-year animal science major, found herself with spare time and got to work crocheting different animal patterns she found online. 

The simplicity, cuteness and efficiency of the triceratops pattern encouraged Eng to make many triceratops and hide them in a scavenger hunt format. Through this idea, the Davis Triceratops community has been bringing students together through hunting for these stuffed animals hidden around campus ever since. 

Gaining 2,150 members to their Discord as of April 8, Eng found herself needing help managing the group and invited her friends Ada Lei and Sebastian Carpinter, first-year students majoring in biology and managerial economics respectively, to help organize future scavenger hunts.

“I didn’t expect it to grow this quickly,” Carpinter said.

Originally advertised in the Discord for those living at The Green, the managing team quickly created its own Discord for Davis Triceratops. The group has been active for the past three months, and hosted its first drop on Jan. 6.

The community attributes some of its success to the collectability of the triceratops. The crocheted dinosaurs themselves have an exclusivity that keeps students and community members hunting, according to Lei.

“The horn colors change every month so after the month, you can’t get the previous colors anymore […] that way it has a collectible aspect,” Lei said.

Drops, which happen multiple times per day, work similarly to a scavenger hunt, in which triceratops are hidden ahead of time for hunters. The triceratops are wrapped in cellophane bags and hidden in a place like the Silo or the Memorial Union. A close up picture and general location information is sent to the Discord and Instagram to give hunters an idea of where to look.

“When we were walking out there, we saw so many groups staring at their phones trying to figure out where [the triceratops] could be based on the photo hints,” Lei said. “I think it’s so much fun for so many people because we have a great community, and it’s a way for people to get out of the house. Because we started during pandemic times, [hunters] told us they used [the drops] to go outside.” 

The Davis Triceratops Discord has a channel called “hunting together” that allows students to meet up and look for triceratops as a group. 

“A lot of people have met through the server creating new friendships which is so nice to see,” Carpinter said.

Once a triceratops is found, the new owner is asked to assign themselves a role of “triceratops parent”’ which helps them make connections with other triceratops owners on the server. 

According to Eng, the online platform paired with in-person events has helped students, particularly those that transferred to UC Davis during the year of online schooling, form a sense of community on campus despite pandemic conditions.

“Transfer students already have a limited amount of time on campus and online classes limit our ability to meet new people and make new connections,” said fourth-year computer science major and discord moderator for Davis Triceratops Arthur Poggenburg. “This community offers a way to meet people [despite those barriers].”

Davis Triceratops has plans to establish a chapter of Davis Triceratops at UC Berkeley. This is planned to take place fall 2022, with the team gearing up to provide supplies for the community. 

The community is looking for more members for their production team and welcomes new hunters to join the Discord.

Written by: Kristin Trent — campus@theaggie.org



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