Jurassic Park – Isla Nublar (S/F) / (S/F-T/G)

Jurassic Park was a failed tourist attraction constructed by International Genetic Technologies, Inc. on the volcanic Costa Rican island of Isla Nublar between the years of 1988 and 1993. Had it been successful, the Park would have showcased a variety of de-extinct species including both animals and plants from the Mesozoic era for the entertainment and education of tourists. This park was based on the earlier Jurassic Park: San Diego attraction planned by InGen in the early 1980s, which was abandoned by CEO John Hammond in favor of Isla Nublar.

Construction of the Park was halted in early June of 1993 due to an animal-related accident that resulted in the death of a handler. InGen’s Board of Directors insisted on a safety tour of the Park by a team of hand-picked experts to determine its viability, which took place on June 11. During the tour, the Park’s security systems were sabotaged by a disgruntled employee, resulting in multiple animal escapes and several fatalities. As a result, Jurassic Park was abandoned, though there were later attempts to resurrect the project. The second such attempt, rebranded as Jurassic World, was highly successful and remained open for ten years.

Name

The name of Jurassic Park was presumably picked by InGen’s then-CEO John Hammond, who was largely responsible for the creation of the Park. Its name comes from the Jurassic period, the middle geological period of the Mesozoic era. However, Jurassic Park would have featured animals and plants from all three geological time periods of that era, not only the Jurassic.

Location

Jurassic Park was located on Isla Nublar, a volcanic island located in the East Pacific Ocean approximately 120 miles west of Costa Rica. The island was owned by the Costa Rican government and leased to InGen in 1985, though construction did not start until 1988.

Though the Park was abandoned on June 13, 1993 following the failed endorsement tour, remnants of the Park remained on the island until the 2018 eruption of Mount Sibo ultimately destroyed any surviving infrastructure.

Description
A map of Isla Nublar as of 1993, including all known Jurassic Park facilities (as interpreted by Jurassic-Pedia staff, 2011)

Jurassic Park encompassed virtually all of Isla Nublar’s available space, whether that space was used for resort facilities, tourist attractions, maintenance infrastructure, or animal paddocks. More detailed descriptions of the Park can be found in the following articles, listed by their location on the island.

Northern Isla Nublar
Central Isla Nublar
Western Isla Nublar
Eastern Isla Nublar
  • Carnivore Feeding Compound
  • Herbivore Feeding Compound
  • Maintenance and Service Tunnels (incomplete as of 1993)
  • Main Road
    • Scenic Lookouts
    • Restrooms
      • Tyrannosaur Paddock
      • Dilophosaur Paddock
  • Service Roads
  • Perimeter Fence
  • Paddock Fences
  • Primary Triceratops Paddock
    • Triceratops Maintenance Building #1
  • Secondary Triceratops Paddock (incomplete as of 1993)
    • Triceratops Maintenance Building #2 (presumably)
  • Tyrannosaurus Paddock
    • Tyrannosaur Maintenance Building (presumably)
    • Tyrannosaur Feeder
  • Primary Dilophosaurus Paddock
    • Dilophosaur Maintenance Building #1 (presumably)
  • Secondary Dilophosaurus Paddock (incomplete as of 1993)
    • Dilophosaur Maintenance Building #2 (presumably)
  • Tertiary Dilophosaurus Paddock (incomplete as of 1993)
    • Dilophosaur Maintenance Building #3 (presumably)
  • Primary Herbivore Paddock
    • Herbivore Maintenance Building #1 (presumably)
    • The Watering Hole
  • Secondary Herbivore Paddock
    • Herbivore Maintenance Building #2 (presumably)
  • Gallimimus Paddock
    • Gallimimus Maintenance Building (presumably)
  • Herrerasaurus Paddock (formerly Velociraptor Paddock)
    • Herrerasaurus Maintenance Building (presumably)
  • Stegosaurus Paddock (incomplete as of 1993)
    • Stegosaurus Maintenance Building (presumably)
  • Baryonyx Paddock (incomplete as of 1993)
    • Baryonyx Maintenance Building (presumably)
  • Metriacanthosaurus Paddock (incomplete as of 1993)
    • Metriacanthosaurus Maintenance Building (presumably)
  • Segisaurus Paddock (incomplete as of 1993)
    • Segisaurus Maintenance Building (presumably)
  • Proceratosaurus Paddock (incomplete as of 1993)
    • Proceratosaurus Maintenance Building (presumably)
  • Compsognathus Paddock (not constructed as of 1993)
  • Aviary
    • Pterosaur Maintenance Building (presumably)
  • Jungle River Cruise
Southern Isla Nublar
History
Conception

Originally, InGen CEO Dr. John Parker Alfred Hammond intended to construct Jurassic Park in San Diego, California due to InGen offices existing within the city. These plans existed sometime prior to 1893, the year in which construction on Jurassic Park: San Diego began. De-extinction was researched during the early 1980s, with InGen leasing the farther-offshore Isla Sorna as a research facility designated Site B in 1982. The first successful test fertilization of an artificial ovum, performed at Benjamin Lockwood‘s estate, occurred in 1984, and the following year InGen hired Berkeley paleogeneticist Dr. Laura Sorkin to aid in the extraction of paleo-DNA from Mesozoic amber. 1985 was also the year that Hammond, dissatisfied with the San Diego locale, opted to move the resort facility to Isla Nublar.

1985-1988: Tun-Si relocation

InGen already had taken out a 99-year lease for Isla Sorna and the rest of the Muertes Archipelago, and in 1985 they propositioned the Costa Rican government to add Isla Nublar to the terms of the lease. The Costa Rican government hired a former awa of the Tun-Si tribe, the indigenous inhabitants of Isla Nublar, to represent the island in order to ask InGen for a steeper price. InGen was impressed with the presentation and agreed to Costa Rica’s terms.

At the time, Isla Nublar was still inhabited by nearly all of the Tun-Si. Following InGen’s lease of the island, the Costa Rican government in cooperation with InGen carried out a relocation program for the entire indigenous population to mainland Costa Rica. InGen agreed to provide the displaced people with homes, healthcare, and education, but largely failed to uphold these promises. In order to facilitate the relocation of the Tun-Si, InGen hired mercenaries associated with the American embassy in Costa Rica, such as Oscar Morales.

In 1986, InGen successfully cloned a Triceratops horridus from Cretaceous paleo-DNA at the Isla Sorna facility with the help of MIT geneticist Dr. Henry Wu, who they had hired that year. This meant that Jurassic Park needed to come under construction soon to keep up with their schedule, and the Tun-Si relocation continued throughout the year.

By the end of 1987, all of the Tun-Si had been relocated to the mainland.

1988-1993: Construction

Jurassic Park officially came under construction in 1988, beginning with essential facilities such as the geothermal power plant built within Mount Sibo. The entire eastern third of the island was used for animal paddocks, separated from the rest of the Park using twenty-four-foot, 10,000-volt electric fencing. To keep track of the animals, motion sensor tracking systems and concrete moats were constructed within the paddocks.

By 1988, InGen had added to its menagerie of de-extinct life. They had by that time hatched a new giant herbivorous sauropod, Brachiosaurus, and the famous predatory theropod Tyrannosaurus rex. The two herbivores were shipped to Isla Nublar from Isla Sorna this year, being introduced to their paddocks.

InGen also expanded its staff, hiring veterinarian Dr. Gerry Harding out of the San Diego Zoo to care for the dinosaurs. By now, Dr. Wu had gained the favorite position in the genetics department over Dr. Sorkin due to his efficient methodologies; these included substituting missing pieces of ancient DNA with the genes of modern animals and introducing a lysine contingency to ensure that escaped animals could not survive. To oversee the construction of Jurassic Park, InGen hired John Raymond Allen Arnold as chief engineer and Dennis T. Nedry as chief programmer. Hammond’s old business partner Robert Muldoon acted as park warden.

New animals continued to arrive to the Park over the next five years. The oldest Tyrannosaurus was introduced in 1989 at one year old; plans were to eventually introduce a second, younger animal, but this was never carried out. By 1993, InGen had introduced Parasaurolophus, Gallimimus, Dilophosaurus, and Velociraptor to the Park in addition to the species they had already brought in. Pteranodon may have been introduced at some point in 1993, but was not officially logged in InGen records. Along with this, Compsognathus arrived on the island through unknown means.

InGen experienced financial difficulty throughout the Park’s construction, and budget cuts negatively impacted many of the employees. Nonetheless, the Park managed to maintain almost complete secrecy due to its remote location and cooperation of the Costa Rican government; there is currently no evidence that the U.S. government or United Nations were aware of the operation. As time went on and the budget became tighter, InGen increasingly treated Dr. Sorkin as a liability due to her methods. Unlike Dr. Wu, Dr. Sorkin believed that it was best to reconstruct the entire paleo-genome through cross-referencing amber samples rather than replace missing segments with donor DNA. Over time, Dr. Sorkin became resentful of InGen’s treatment of her work; she was eventually granted a field lab on Isla Nublar and an assistant named David Banks, but funds were cut from her research operations in order to finance the creation and housing of a Tylosaurus. This reptile’s existence necessitated the creation of a marine facility on the island’s north, which was kept secret from most employees by using the desalinization facility as a cover.

Dr. Sorkin also created the species Troodon pectinodon, which she discovered to be a stalking predator with lethal venom. Hammond did not approve of her proposal to study the species, insisting that they had no place in the Park. This furthered Dr. Sorkin’s resent toward InGen; at some point she became opposed to the idea of a Park at all, instead hoping that the island could be used as a nature preserve to study the dinosaurs. She began working on a cure for the lysine contingency.

Dennis Nedry also became dissatisfied with his pay at InGen, frequently arguing with Hammond about his salary. Hammond continued to focus expenses on the Park; by 1992, InGen had purchased a fleet of electric Ford Explorers to act as automated tour vehicles and had begun construction on a roller coaster ride called the Bone Shaker. These attractions, along with the ever-growing animal population, took up a considerable amount of InGen’s resources, and the salaries of employees such as Nedry and Dr. Sorkin suffered for it.

Sometime before 1993, InGen suffered a leadership crisis. Their main financial backer, Benjamin Lockwood, had proposed that InGen use its cloning technology for purposes other than de-extinction such as medical human cloning. John Hammond firmly disagreed with this, and a rift formed between the two men. Where only shortly before Hammond had allowed Lockwood to bring his only daughter to witness the dinosaurs in person, Lockwood was now off the project, and with him went the financial support he provided.

Further problems occurred in the spring and summer of 1993. Jurassic Park was less than a year away from Phase I, which would see visitors come to the park, but the Visitors’ Centre was still under construction and the computer system was still being debugged. Animals continued to cause problems, and an incident at the geothermal plant raised serious safety concerns on May 24. The Park’s other attractions (such as the Marine Facility, Aviary, and Bone Shaker) were of less concern as they would not open until Phase II, six months after opening day.

Velociraptor in particular caused major issues throughout Park construction. First cloned in 1991 shortly after the also-problematic Dilophosaurus, eight of these animals were introduced to their paddock sometime by 1993. However, when the most dominant raptor was introduced, a violent restructuring of power left all but three raptors dead (the dominant animal, dubbed “the Big One,” and two subordinates). Hammond ordered replacements sent from Isla Sorna, which were housed in the southern quarantine pens; in the meantime, the Big One ordered her subordinates to attack their electrified fences at feeding time. They tested the fences for weaknesses, never striking the same place twice. Robert Muldoon identified this behavior and recognized the threat of a raptor escape, ordering the animals to be relocated to a secure holding pen near the Visitor Compound.

In early June, the relocation took place. While the animals were being introduced to the holding pen, they managed to overpower their handlers and mauled a worker named Jophrey Brown to death. Though the raptors were contained without any further loss of life, Brown’s family prepared to sue InGen for negligence and construction on the Park ground to a halt. Hammond opted to replace Velociraptor with Herrerasaurus, shelving the former until a better solution could be found for them. Four herrerasaurs were shipped to the island and kept in a holding pen, and the raptors were kept in the pens they were already in. The Board of Directors demanded that a safety inspection be carried out on the Park before construction could resume its normal pace, and that experts be brought to the island to review the Park and endorse it.

As all these financial difficulties were plaguing InGen, chief programmer Dennis Nedry planned to commit an act of corporate espionage for InGen’s rival BioSyn in order to resolve his own financial problems. He conspired with BioSyn’s Lewis Dodgson to obtain dinosaur embryos which would allow BioSyn to catch up on years of research to compete with InGen.

The Board of Directors, under the guidance of legal consultant Donald Gennaro, selected three scientists to endorse Jurassic Park: mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm, vertebrate paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, and an unnamed geologist. The Board itself toured the Park in early June shortly before the endorsement tour was invited. They concurred with Hammond’s insistence that Troodon pectinodon be euthanized, and suggested relocating Dr. Sorkin to Site B and reassigning her to study population statistics. She opted not to euthanize her animals, however, and kept them living in the quarantine pens without InGen’s knowledge. Access to the geothermal power plant was made restricted to authorized personnel only, and the Board agreed with Hammond to continue monitoring the area for new magma vents. The geologist’s invitation was revoked following this part of the investigation, which Gennaro had suggested. The Bone Shaker and Marine Facility were approved for Phase II despite some concerns, and the Board suggested that the Bone Shaker have a soft launch in Phase I to offset costs.

1993-2002: Abandonment of the project

On June 11, the endorsement tour arrived on Isla Nublar. The group had gained a few new additions, including paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler and Hammond’s young grandchildren, Lex and Tim Murphy. During the tour, Nedry enacted his plan with Dodgson; while he failed to get the embryos off the island, his act of sabotage set in motion a chain of events which resulted in the deaths of Gennaro, Arnold, Muldoon, Banks, Sorkin, Nedry himself, and several dinosaurs; several other people are believed to have died during concurrent events and immediately afterward. However, before her death Sorkin was able to implement the cure for the lysine contingency, ensuring that the animals would survive in the absence of human intervention.

The financial disaster caused by Nedry’s sabotage forced Hammond to abandon Jurassic Park, and the animals were left to fend for themselves. While some of the species had successfully bred on the island, they failed to maintain stable populations and slowly died out over the next few years. InGen surveyed the island in 1994 to assess its condition, but made no attempt to reclaim it at that time, and the facilities were left in the damaged state they were in.

Isla Nublar was abandoned until 2002, and Jurassic Park’s infrastructure slowly fell into decay.

2002-2015: Preservation of the ruins

In 2002, InGen retook Isla Nublar as a subsidiary of Masrani Global Corporation. Surviving dinosaurs were recaptured and contained in order for a new theme park, Jurassic World, to be built on the island. Some dinosaurs were relocated to Site B temporarily; others were housed in new paddocks built by Timack Construction. The ruins of Jurassic Park were mostly deconstructed, but some features (such as the concrete moat of the original tyrannosaur paddock and what remained of the Visitors’ Centre) were left intact. The Visitors’ Centre was planned to be converted into a museum-like attraction demonstrating the history of Jurassic Park, but ultimately Masrani Global determined that it was best to distance itself from the original Park entirely. Some assets from the old Park were reused, such as the radio bunkers, North Dock (now the new East Dock), and maintenance tunnel system, while others were either deconstructed or moved away from the new park’s facilities.

The Visitors’ Centre stood in the central part of Isla Nublar, separated from tourist attractions by a boundary fence which visitors were not permitted to cross. It was abandoned until 2015; on December 18 a construction worker was surveying the area, but as Jurassic World closed on that date, nothing came of this.

2015-2018: Final abandonment

Any remaining remnants of Jurassic Park continued to be reclaimed by nature after Jurassic World’s closure in December of 2015. They slowly decayed until June 23, 2018, when a violent eruption of the island’s stratovolcano likely destroyed most of the surviving structures.

Cultural Significance

The cultural impact of Jurassic Park on the modern world cannot be overstated. While the existence of the Park was the stuff of rumor and conspiracy theory until the 1997 San Diego incident confirmed the truth of it, de-extinction was always destined to change history. Jurassic Park was InGen’s pride even before it was planned to be revealed to the public, and served as the inspiration behind the successful Jurassic World.

However, the failure of Jurassic Park was a sore spot for InGen due to the vast amount of resources poured into creating the resort. As a result, InGen attempted to effectively bury the truth behind the 1993 incident; as far as the public was concerned, the old Park was a mysterious legend, and most of the details were left ambiguous. All that the public (and, to some degree, new InGen employees) knew was that the old Park had been sabotaged by a nameless traitor, resulting in a deadly incident that several celebrity scientists were involved with. Though Dr. Malcolm did speak openly about the incident, he himself did not have all the details; for example, he never met Nedry, and no one who knew the man spoke publicly about his suspected actions. Nedry’s name was not even known to the public until a 2018 report by Masrani Global’s Claire Dearing brought him into the light. Until then, the mystique of Jurassic Park was pervasive even within the company, and unused Jurassic Park merchandise regularly fetched high prices on the online market.

The research done at Jurassic Park has also had a massive impact on science in the modern world; in particular, the work of Dr. Henry Wu got its start here. His research has had a profound effect on the study of genetics, opening up fields that would have been fantasy mere years before. Though much of his research was done at Jurassic World between 2002 and 2015, his time at Jurassic Park during the 1980s and 1990s formed the basis for all of his later work. Jurassic Park is considered to have legitimized paleogenetics as a field, as well as being the origin of neopaleontology.

Ecological Significance

Isla Nublar’s ecosystem was fundamentally altered by Jurassic Park, much to the detriment of the species that had lived there for thousands of years. Construction of the Park affected almost the entire island; while the cloud forest was mostly left standing, much of the eastern island was cleared to make room for roads and paddock fencing. The underground of the northern and eastern parts of the island were dug out to construct a sprawling system of maintenance tunnels, which likely necessitated the felling of trees and other plant life.

InGen also introduced several de-extinct animal and plant species to Isla Nublar. These would have had a detrimental effect on native species, including the endemic Nublar tufted deer (Elaphodus cephalophus nublarus), which is found nowhere else in the world. Prior to the introduction of large dinosaurian predators, the island’s largest carnivore would have been the common boa, but this reptile’s status as apex predator would have ended in 1989 and never returned.

Many species were intended to appear in Jurassic Park, but InGen only succeeded in introducing a few to the island before the events of 1993 forced them to abandon the project. These included a pack of juvenile Dilophosaurus, a family unit of Triceratops, a herd of Brachiosaurus, at least two social groups of Parasaurolophus, a large Gallimimus flock, a single Tyrannosaurus rex, and possibly a few Pteranodons. An unknown number of Velociraptors survived the incident, as did numerous Compsognathus and at least one pack of Troodons which InGen was not aware of. Additionally, a single Tylosaurus was introduced to the northern lagoon, but was contained. Four juvenile Herrerasaurus were introduced to the island but died during the incident. Ancient plant species, such as a Cretaceous veriforman, were grown on the island.

InGen also introduced nonnative animals and plants to the island aside from the de-extinct ones, including feeder animals such as common carp and discus fish as well as ornamental plants including West Indian lilac, heliconias, and Moreton Bay figs. InGen activity also brought invasive brown rats to the island, which could then disturb native animals.

This combination of native, modern introduced, and de-extinct introduced species created a unique but unstable ecosystem on Isla Nublar which persisted in some form until the island was eventually reclaimed and tamed in 2002.