PHOENIX - Giant spiders, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes have been spotted in parts of Maricopa County. County officials said they put them near popular parks on purpose in the hopes that children would play with them.
"It's really exciting and I hope that people are going to like it. We think it goes with the theme of the desert," said Maricopa County Parks and Recreation official Brad Reed.
The giant animals aren't real animals though; they're specially designed playground equipment parks officials brought in to replace aging jungle gyms and slides.
John Lund of Triple M Game Time designed the life-like equipment. Lund said there are Cactus Climbers for children to scramble up, Cactus Swings for people to swing on, a giant mountain lion and a giant spider for balancing, and even a giant rattlesnake slide.
"It's a little scary but kids really seem to be enjoying it," said Lund. The Rattlesnake slide is nearly 30 feet long and weighs more than 15,000 pounds. And yes, the slide also has its own rattle children can hang on.
"We wanted to do something out here that was unique and really representative of the environment," said Lund.
Maricopa County officials commissioned the new playground equipment for five county parks. At a cost of more than $750,000, the specially designed equipment is more costly than traditional playground equipment. However, county officials believe it is worth it.
"It flows with the theme of our parks," said Reed.
Cave Creek, McDowell Mountain, Usery, Estrella, and White Tanks Regional parks all received the upgraded equipment.