Don Lessem earned a BA in Art History from Brandeis University and then a Masters in Animal Behavior at UMass Boston. He began his writing career researching for the Smithsonian Center for Short-Lived Phenomena, and spent more than a decade as a science journalist writing for the Boston Globe and contributing articles to Life, New York Times and Smithsonian Magazine.
In 1988 Lessem was a Knight Journalism Fellow at MIT and it was at this time that he developed a special affinity for dinosaurs. He wrote his first book, Kings of Creation, in 1990, and in 1993 launched his company, Exhibitsrex, Inc. His first traveling exhibit in 1993 was designed to correct inaccuracies he had identified in Jurassic Park.
Lessem had served as an advisor for the movie Jurassic Park, but was not happy with most of the existing models of dinosaurs, and decided to build his own. This is done in Zigong, China, which is the site of a great deal of robotic industry. Professional paleontologists oversee production of the models.
In addition to his work on Jurassic Park, Lessem has hosted NOVA documentaries and collaborated on Disney movies and theme parks. He has written 52 books on natural history, and his exhibitions have raised $2 million for dinosaur research. Mr. Lessem directed the excavation and reconstruction of the largest dinosaur, the 120-foot long Argentinosaurus, and the largest carnivorous dinosaur, the 45-foot-long Giganotosaurusm.
Dino Don, Inc. currently has six employees and operates out of Lessem’s home in Media, Pennsylvania, making life-size models for zoos around the world. He made his first sale in 2019 to the Bronx Zoo. The company has already booked more than 40 clients for 2021, and Lessem anticipates revenue will approach $15 million.