Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm Runs Aground


Noah's ArkSo, it emerged last week that a zoo in North Somerset has been criticised for promoting a creationist agenda. The Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm – and the name alone should be setting off alarm bells and red flags in any skeptical listener – claims to represent the natural world as a product of both God and evolution, causing the British Humanist Association to appeal to local tourist boards to cease advertising the attraction.

The BHA have roundly criticised the zoo for undermining the teaching of science – which is a pretty tough charge for the zoo to deny, given that signs around the zoo state that animals hunt and kill food because “man rebelled against God”, and that the “three great people groups” in the world could be descended from the three sons of Bible ark builder Noah.  The bit about three great people groups is especially nice – I can only assume this refers to an absurdly simplistic and offensive generalisation of the whole worldwide gamut of racial diversity. If we’re filling our kids’ heads with nonsense, it’s efficient to try and pack multiple nonsenses into the same punch, I guess.

Paul Pettinger, the BHA education officer, visited the zoo at the end of July and has said of the visit:

“I found lots of creationist and pseudo-scientific beliefs. They ask you to pray for animals, and so on. We’re very concerned because it will undermine education and the teaching of science.”

The Zoo is run by Anthony and Christina Bush, and a quick look at the Zoo’s website shows it’s religious stance, stating:

…[they] open[ed] Noah’s Ark, as a themed animal park, for adventure, education and to remind visitors of the ancient tradition of God’s relationship with mankind; and of the contemporary science that points to Creation plus evolution of species.

What’s more, an entire area of the zoo’s website is devoted to re-hashed creationist ideas, which in themselves are clearly wildly unscientific. Consider this sample of science-based Creationism, found as the site explains life in the pre-flood days:

Based on the biblical information and on what we know from changes in fauna, flora and geography over time, we can say:

– The land was watered, not by rain, but from moisture which oozed through the soil from a great body of water beneath the land, called the deep. Springs and rivers also got their water from this underground reservoir.

– The interior of the Earth was probably cool.

Utter nonsense! The Deep? A cool core inside the Earth? A past where water didn’t rain down, but instead seeped up through the ground?

One day people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. The next day, the springs of the great deep broke open and the unleashed waters swept them away.

‘That’s right, kids, people were laughing and dancing and loving their life and then they all drowned and were obliterated from the face of the planet by a vengeful God. Oooh, look, a tortoise’. Charming stuff.

The zoo claim they don’t push a religious story on the children, except when requested. Despite this claim, a prominent exhibition at the attraction is the model ark, built to scale and filled with animals. Explaining Noah’s ark, the zoo writes:

The Ark was huge, about the same size as a cross-Channel ferry with three decks, but no bow or stern…

Since animals diversified enormously after the Flood, the number of kinds would have been much smaller than the number of species now.

Our current estimate is that all mammals, living and extinct, can be grouped into some 120 original kinds. Similarly there may have been around 100 different kinds of bird and a similar number of reptiles and amphibians, including dinosaurs. We would also need to make allowance for numerous insects and other vertebrates. With younger animals being taken in preference to older ones and the average size of the vertebrates no bigger than a sheep, there would have been plenty of room for them, as well as for food and water tanks.

OK, where to begin?! The Ark was huge, about the size of a cross-Channel ferry. Great. That’s easily big enough to fit 2 of every kind of animal ever, including dinosaurs, onto. I mean, a cross-Channel ferry is roughly 180m x 30m x 7m. That’s almost the length of 15 T-Rex’s. So as long as pairs of every type of animal can be crammed into a space the size of 15 T-Rex’s, Noah’s golden.Fortunately, we don’t need to cram every type of animal alive today into that space, only every type of animal that was alive at the time, which the zoo estimates (ie plucks out of thin air) to be something like maybe 220 mammals and reptiles (including dinosaurs, elephants, giraffes, horses…) and 100 birds. Presumably not including ducks, because they can swim. Plus there’s two of each of those, so that’s 440 mammals, and 200 birds. All crammed into a P&O Ferrymaster to Calais. With food, and drink, and space to breathe, and partitions to stop them eating each other. What food did the carnivores eat? Who knows. Dodo, I guess…

Clearly, the flavour of creationism the zoo offers is total unscientific nonsense, and it’s hard to believe these people are in daily contact with educational organisations, and with impressionable children. The only true evidence for a flood to be found on the website is the deluge of bullshit pouring out of its pages.

The website doesn’t just stop at promoting the Biblical version of events via dodgy maths, biology and physics – it goes as far as to attempt to attack real and proven science, questioning radioactive decay rates, the speed of light, and (of course) the theory of evolution:

According to the book of Genesis, the highest reality is God, and man was created by him in order to be like him. He was made ‘in his image, after his likeness’. Darwinism is a philosophy which attempts to contradict the obvious differences between man and the other animals by suggesting that in the past the differences were much smaller. It seeks to minimise the divine in our nature and maximise the animal, in the hope that it will seem plausible to imagine an evolutionary transition from animal to human.

Setting aside any scientific debate over evolution and creationism for a moment (which the zoo seem happy to do), what the zoo are saying here amounts to simply “The Bible says we’re like God, science says we’re like animals – we’d prefer to be gods than animals therefore the Bible got it right”. Just because something is a nice thought, doesn’t make it true.

Hear this and more on Righteous Indignation

Hear this and more on Righteous Indignation

Again, it really is astounding that this zoo is allowed to preach to children under the auspices of real education, and with 120,000 visitors each year it has no shortage of ears to fill with nonsense. Let’s just hope the negative press generated by their pseudoscientific beliefs convinces them to drop the creationist propaganda, or convinces parents and teachers to find a more scientifically-sound zoo.

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  1. #1 by Colin H on September 7, 2009 - 20:05

    Don’t worry, Marsh, according to ‘Der Gud Buk’ no animals were carnivorous before the flood, so sleeping arrangements on the ark were relatively peaceful:

    “And the lion did lie down with the lamb…”
    The Book of Jeff: 12, 32
    (I’m too lazy to look up the real reference)

    God decided to make the animals carnivorous afterwards, because he’s a fickle git. Not sure what all those animals did with their sharp teeth previous to the flood. Opened beer bottles, perhaps?

  2. #2 by Colin H on September 7, 2009 - 20:10

    Rumour has it that Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm used to have a poster showing the geneology of man from Abraham to Prince Charles. I would love to know if any of our readers have been to Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm and noticed this bizarre curio? I can’t see it being true, but then stranger things have happened…

  3. #3 by Marsh on September 8, 2009 - 00:57

    I thought no animals were carnivorous before the fall, not before the flood? The flood was post-fall, so they had their meateaty dentures fully activated when the rain came down and the floods came up.

  4. #4 by Allen Nyhuis on September 8, 2009 - 01:27

    Quite honestly, I’ve heard very good things about this small privately-run zoo. Whether or not you or I agree with their beliefs shouldn’t make us upset! It’s up to parents to make sure their children learn science, so why are you so upset that they might actually be confronted with some differing beliefs. I’m not sure, but I think everything the Noah’s Ark folks are advocating comes straight from the Bible. Is that so bad? The last I checked, the Bible was a book which advocates loving your neighbor and looking out for your fellow man. Is that bad?

    Allen Nyhuis, Coauthor: America’s Best Zoos

  5. #5 by Colin H on September 8, 2009 - 02:37

    Hmm. (dons glasses and flicks through the bible) Actually, it doesn’t really say. Or it could be that it’s late and I’m too tired to see it. It gives the impression that humans don’t eat meat until after the flood for some reason, but I can’t find mention of what the animals do. Either way, the first thing Noah does when he gets off the ark is start sacrificing animals! What a bastard! Talk about false hope. “I’ll save you, just come on my boat and you’ll be fine…”

  6. #6 by Lard on September 8, 2009 - 09:53

    Allen,

    Last time I checked, the bible also advocates murder, genocide, slavery and incest.

  7. #7 by Yorkshireskeptic on September 8, 2009 - 17:46

    @Allen

    It’s all very well that the Bible ‘…advocates loving your neighbor and looking out for your fellow man’ (i disagree, but that’s another argument for another day :P)

    …But what has that got to do with being scientifically and biologically correct?

    Does any book that advocates being nice to people and whatnot instantly make that book an authoritave text on biology? No it doesn’t.

    The Bible is a book of parables and moral teachings, not a scientific text and no decent zoo should use it as a reference book!

  8. #8 by AlexMagd on September 10, 2009 - 09:32

    Precisely. On a lot of issues it is nice to expose your child to varying beliefs and ideas and let them make your own mind up. The mistake is taking this approach – which works wonders in a lot of areas – and applying to science. Science deals in facts, not respecting opinions just because they exist.

    Evolution is a scientific fact, or at least as much a fact as it is possible to get. It’s backed up by 200 years of discoveries in geology, biology, chemistry and every other scientific field. It’s clear from the quotations in the article that the people behind this museum have invented their own unscientific solution to the diversity of life but that doesn’t make it an equal, opposite view to evolution. Just because I believe that the moon is made of brie doesn’t mean that my view should be taken into account on all discussions of the moon. It doesn’t mean children should be taught about the rock-moon and the cheese-moon just to show “differing beliefs”.

    This is science. It deals in facts. If you don’t have facts, don’t come to the table.

  9. #9 by Anon on December 3, 2019 - 21:18

    Noah’s ark is a CHILDISH Biblical story, look a Playmobil toy.
    They had fairground rides, check the 90s kids show Tots TV.
    Tots Video: Tilly, Tom and Tiny’s Animal adventures wow how dark is Noahs’ ark when they put it on a show for kids under 5.

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