Alarm bells sound over ark project

Alarm bells sound over ark project

Animals might be be put at risk at Kentucky’s planned theme park

IF YOU have $100,000 dollars to spare and the brain the size of a neutrino, you might consider buying a stake in a “replica” of Noah’s Ark, scheduled to built in Kentucky by those nutjobs over at Answers in Genesis.

Investors who buy $100,000 of the taxable securities being offered  by the northern Kentucky city of Williamstown will get a lifetime family pass. In total, Williamstown plans to offer $62 million worth of securities for the project.

Proceeds will help build a 510-foot (155.4-meter) wooden ship, the centrepiece of a planned biblical theme park called “Ark Encounter”.

Gwen Pearson, who has a PhD in Entomology and serves as Network Coordinator for the Organization of Biological Field Stations, foresees problems. BIG problems regarding animal welfare. She writes here:

From the first announcement of the park in 2009, live animal displays inside a giant wooden boat were part of the plan. That’s kind of what the story of the Ark is all about. Just how they are going to jam lots of animals into an artificial, closed environment with loud tourists and a bunch of other animals (some of which are predators), has been a bit hazy.

In a 2010 interview, Mike Zovath, Senior Vice President of Answers in Genesis, a retired Army lieutenant who is overseeing the construction of the ark, explained:

The ark is to be built with wooden pegs and timber framing by Amish builders. Animals including giraffes — but only small, young giraffes — will be kept in pens on board. We think that God would probably have sent healthy juvenile-sized animals that weren’t fully grown yet, so there would be plenty of room,.

Mike Zovath

Mike Zovath

That, said Pearson, is pretty much in line with published statements from Answers in Genesis. By their estimates, 16,000 land animals and birds, including dinosaurs, were on the ark. Before you ask, she said, provisioning for dinosaurs wasn’t a problem for Noah:

Carnivorous dinosaurs – if any were meat-eaters before the Flood – could have eaten dried meat, reconstituted dried meat, or slaughtered animals.

arkpark Above is an artist’s illustration of one of the animal confinement bays inside the planned Ark, from a video released this year (2013). Pearson said:

If I saw something like that in my neighbor’s garage, I’d call animal welfare. The wooden poop diversion system shown in this photo will not hold up under a constant bombardment of feces, uric acid, and ammonia. I’ve helped manage and care for a wide assortment of wild and domestic animals, big and small, over the course of my career.

There is a HUGE amount of paperwork, documentation, and inspections involved in having captive animals. It is, frankly, a gigantic pain in the ass, and the animals are healthier and receive better care because of all the annoying, complex rules. That’s why the Ark project set off all sorts of alarm bells in my head.

Pearson was worried enough to contact Zovath and got some encouraging news. Way off kilter he may be, but Zovath has had the sense to realise that the original concept had more holes in it than Norah Batty’s tights. He backed off his earlier statements about a zoo full of juvenile animals removed from parental care, saying:

We originally thought about a lot more exotic animals on the ark, but as we got into the design and the code restrictions, we realized we weren’t going to be able to do what we wanted to do.

Because the ark is what it is, people do expect to encounter some live animals while they are walking around… but we had to modify what we planned do with large animals on board. We’ve gone from trying to have an actual zoo inside with exotic animals to mostly farm animals. Little farm animals, like mini-cows.

He also mentioned that they would use animatronic animals or stuffed display animals rather than live animals for exotic species. Commented Pearson:

This is another bit of good news; I’d predict hoof problems in a giraffe within a week of standing on wood saturated with feces and urine. Using “small farm animals” isn’t a solution for that problem, though. Laminitis is a common problem for cows and other hoofed mammals, and it’s associated with poor diet and standing on hard floors.

She added

I’m not, frankly, convinced that this structure is going to be a very pleasant place for human animals, either. It’s a wooden box about the length of 1.7 football fields, and it’s going to be full of people talking and stomping around. Add into that multimedia presentations, live non-human animals, all the bodily products of those animals, and multiple food service areas.

It’s going to be pretty noisy and smelly, even with a state-of-the-art HVAC system. This is an attraction that exists to promote a religious message. It’s not about animals at all. The welfare of the animals and their biology is less important than their ability to reinforce a religious myth.

She pointed out that the issue of animal welfare is not new for creationists. The Museum of Creation and Earth (formerly run by the Institute for Creation Research, and not connected to Answers in Genesis) was recently denied membership in the San Diego Museum Council, in part because of:

Their animal care and the protocol and care of their exhibitions…a lot of areas that were not in line with membership guidelines.

Pearson concluded:

Creationists reconstruct old stories from a book. That’s fine, and best of luck to them. But animals should not suffer and die for their design sins.

40 responses to “Alarm bells sound over ark project”

  1. The best thing to do here is to simply get out of the way and let these people realize for themselves how impossible this is. IN fact, I wish they didn’t have to deal with regulations, so they wouldn’t be able to use regulation as an excuse.

    The reality is that all this project is going to do is demonstrate the impossibility of the task. People who are all up in arms and worried about it are idiots, because the reality is that it CANNOT work. Anyone with real “faith” in science would know that.

    Having said that, what would have been much more interesting would have been for some secular documentary film maker to somehow get access to film and document this process, to be able to document the utter failure of it.

    I mean look, here is the reality. It isn’t even going to be possible for a team of Amish master craftsmen, using semi-modern technology to be able to build this thing, it isn’t going to work, period.

    Then, even if they did, populating it with animals would not just be a logistical nightmare, it would be impossible. Baby animals? Yeah right, how are they going to be cared for? Impossible. Even if you could care for the baby animals, it would mean that in order to have the display you would have to be cycling through the animals every 3 months to a year. Baby giraffes? You would need to get new baby giraffes about every year, at least two of them, and be able to offload the ones you had. Impossible, never going to happen.

    Besides, the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark doesn’t say that there was only 2 of each animal on board, it says that there was SEVEN of all “clean” animals, and two of each unclean kind. So, in reality we’d need point out that they don’t just need 2 of each animal, they need SEVEN of most of the kinds of animals. And of course, the reason for 7 of each kind was that at the end of the flood Noah gets off the boat and sacrifices THE VAST MAJORITY of the animals he had taken on board, creating a massive pyre of burnt offerings to god.

    But really, the fact this this has forced these people to REALLY think through the logistics of the Noah story is, IMO, “a true blessing”.

    If, like me, you are really secure in your knowledge that the Noah story is simply a myth and that it is in fact literally impossible for it to ever happen, then instead of trying to throw up road blocks for these people, you should be encouraging them and using this as a learning exercise for them. We shouldn’t throw up road blocks, that just gives them excuses.

    We should be supportive and let them see how far they will go before they realize that it is, truly, impossible.

  2. Great+Satan says:

    I’m always amazed that creationists were/are able to push the “2 of each species” myth onto agrarian communities – any farmer worth his salt will tell you of the dangers of inbreeding … ditto the prevalence of inbreeding/cousin marriage amongst Pakistani muslims.

  3. L.Long says:

    After living on a farm I can tell you that the STINK will be awful!!!
    Unless the surfaces are stainless steal or ceramic they will not be able to keep the place clean enough. One trip thru and you are not convinced that this BS is BS, then your nose will be dead. Getting people to return will not be a problem compared to get people to even go in at all!

  4. L.Long says:

    Notice how no one talks about the amount of incest in Noah’s family? Yet the xtians go on and on about the evils of incest?
    How do these dimwits think we got here if A&E and the flood are real??

  5. Dave Godfrey says:

    I’m not too worried about the animals. The way things are going, Ken ‘The Lie’ Ham’s boondoggle will never be built.

  6. Ivan says:

    So if it can’t be done now, on land and with modern facilities and a ready supply of food on hand, what makes them think it could be done 4000 years ago floating all alone in the middle of a giant ocean?

  7. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    @L.Long: It’s not just Noah, where did Adam & Eve’s kids find their partners?

  8. Steven Palmer says:

    They’re planning to have “mini-cows”? Is that where you get Mini Milk from? I used to love Mini Milks…

  9. L says:

    At least that will be 100k that doesn’t go to fund some rightwing creationist politician’s re-election.

  10. remigius says:

    Just how they are going to jam lots of animals into an artificial, closed environment with loud tourists…

    Well, they could send the tourists in two at a time. That’s how Noah would do it!

  11. Trevor Blake says:

    Exhaustive debunking of the flood / ark story:

    An aside: somewhere in the Bible’s past, some references to men’s regenerative members were changed to feet. Thus Noah’s daughters pull away his blanket while he is drunk to see his ‘feet’ and have sex with him. There is also acreference to shaving men’s ‘feet.’ Hobbits must have been among the tribes of the desert.

  12. remigius says:

    Trevor, which bible are you using? Mine says it was Lot who had drunken family fun with his daughters.

    Noah was seen in’t nuddy by his son Ham.

  13. AgentCormac says:

    The ark is to be built with wooden pegs and timber framing by Amish builders.

    So I assume the ark is going to be as ‘authentic’ as these nut jobs can make it, then. Which does beg the question, where are they going to find penguins, polar bears, snow leopards, reindeer, et al in Palestine? Such creatures aren’t there now, just like they have never been there.

    BTW, for the gay contingent amongst us, I see photographer Piero Pazzi has launched a 2014 calendar of ‘hot priests’ – some described as ‘smouldering’. Enjoy! (And can someone tell me what ‘Father March’ is kissing?)

  14. Broga says:

    Wow! Good looking fellas. What a waste when you think what they could be getting into. If you see what I mean.

  15. Steve Gates says:

    Please let them take on this project. I am certain they will show the story of noah to be an impossibility.

    Food storage is never discussed and food alone will destroy this. Some larger animals such as elephants eat a significant amount of food each day. There is simply not room for ‘two of each animal’ to be boarded and stocked with food for 40 day.

    Additionally, are they going to have one family cleaning up after the animals? That is another big issue that is never addressed, waste management.

    This can only end in hilarity or further proof that these people go as far out of their way as possible to ignore logic.

  16. RussellW says:

    Seems like a nice little earner for the city of Williamstown.

    How many Christian religiots in the US, 10 million, 20million? @$100,000 per investor,.

  17. Robert Stovold says:

    “We think that God would probably have sent healthy juvenile-sized animals that weren’t fully grown yet, so there would be plenty of room”
    “Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate” Genesis 7:7

  18. Angela_K says:

    @Steve Gates. I recently had a discussion with a christian on the same subject as the impossibility of storing enough food and gathering all specie many that were unknown in the middle east. His banal and stupid reply was “god can do anything”

  19. 1859 says:

    If you have no rational, evidence-based arguments to support your fairy tales, then go out and build the evidence, fabricate it, construct it, make real the unreal! – What a load of self-fulling shite! Actually I hope they do build this thing, because when it collapses physically and financially, there may be the slimmest chance these happy-clappy christians, will see a little light through their foggy, totally dense stupidity.

  20. Robster says:

    Hundred grand and they get a free family pass! Wow, what an offer, endless entertaining hours wandering around staring at dead or dying animals, or artificial robotic ones jerking around their wooden cages, wallowing in decomposing faeces and loving the aroma of fresh loaves and fishes. They’ll probably have jesus cracker nibblies and jesus blood cocktails on sale at the bar too. What fun.

  21. charlie says:

    I don’t know folks.
    On one hand, yes, let them build the damn thing and watch it fail, big time fail. Then we can sit back, laugh and say “told you it wouldn’t work. Noah and the flood did NOT happen. It is all a big fairy tale.”
    On the other hand, it will be a huge waste of resources. All the wood to be used could instead be used to build homes for the poor people of the area, you know, like the countless homeless we have here in the US of A. Also, the poor animals, the live ones, that they do use will NOT get proper care, feeding, vet attention.
    Oh, what the hell, let the loons build it and waste their money and resources. I just hope they don’t kill too many of the actual live animals they do use should the boat get built.
    Fundie xtians are nucking futs.

  22. John C says:

    I am saddened that they are not likely to get the chance to gain personal experience of the imposibility of the noah myth,the thoughts of building such a huge ship with amish builders is quite laughable, and even if they did, stage 2 , the logistics of obtaining animals from all over the world would bancrupt them.Even if they were sucessful there,the thoughts of those fundies having to daily shovel putrid animal waste and swab down decks awash with urine would make the whole thing worthy of a good chuckle,and the food bill would keep money out of the churches coffers,for a while at least,until they realised that they would of needed a support fleet of similar sized arks to hold the spieces they couldnt fit in the first, and food for them all.

  23. Trevor Blake says:

    remigius, you are correct: I confused a few Bible stories. Thank you for pointing out my mistake.

  24. L.Long says:

    “On the other hand, it will be a huge waste of resources. All the wood to be used could instead be used to build homes for the poor people of the area, you know, like the countless homeless we have here in the US of A. Also, the poor animals, the live ones, that they do use will NOT get proper care, feeding, vet attention.”

    What are you thinking. Do you really think they give a schite about some poor people or animals compared to their holey mission??? These are xtians after all! The ones who are suppose to give all to the poor and live for jesus!??!!??? Sorry I forgot these are republican jesus followers…phuck the poor and what are a few animals.

  25. remigius says:

    Trevor, tis an honour to point out, and have you recognise a mistake. And can I say how much I would enjoy someone drawing attention to any mistake I would make.

    Oh, how often I have offered corrections on god-bothers webshites, only for them to not post cos it embarrasses them, or their god.

    This is what I relish in the atheistic/scientific community. A willingness to recognise when we have made a mistake, and a desirè to offer amends.

  26. charlie says:

    Yes, I was aware of that fact.
    Still, like the vast majority of the above comments and the regular readers here, I DO care about those things. Being a non-believer in any religion and I do try to be a decent human, I actually care about such things.
    I know you were being sarcastic and I take no offence. Hell, of course they don’t care. Yep, elephant gang religious clowns and they can spend all their money on this miserable crap. I just hope they don’t kill/harm too many living animals do so.

  27. Protista Amoeba says:

    These imbeciles should build the ark and they should load all the worlds’ fundies and set-sail in it for a year (which is the duration of the flood). But no wild animals, they can take sheep and goats for food. But they must not take any modern technology, apart from a radar reflector and a solar powered GPS tracker, to which the crew have no access. In order to replicate the global flood, where there was no land above the global ocean the ark should be cast adrift in the Southern ocean. There needs to be an international agreement prohibiting any interference with their project (or any rescue), because God will protect them – or not. I doubt that a wooden boat of that size would last a week before it breaks-up & sinks. The first storm (frequent and violent) or iceberg (occur year-round) will be their last.

    We can do without these idiots. Let the bastards drown and do the world a favour.

  28. L.Long says:

    Well Charlie I was somewhat sarcastic except about the re-PUKE-ians, as they could give a schite about anything other then power and wealth.
    But really we don’t need to worry about the animals. When the ark is done enough to consider the addition of animals, they will find that the cost and effort of JUST getting animals to the ark and then holding them long enough to try to get them into the ark will be SSSsssooooo expensive and so much work (not even trying to handle ALL the schite!!!) that it will fail.

  29. Barry Duke says:

    There’s an interesting piece today about the creationist zoo in Bristol in the UK:

    Writer Alice Roberts concludes:

    “Its website says: ‘Educational field trips are a great way to learn… A school trip can encourage and consolidate learning in many areas of the National Curriculum.’ Teachers planning a school trip can visit for free, to familiarise themselves with the zoo.

    “In this zoo, the creationists have built themselves an impressive soapbox. I felt that I had to visit, if only to know what I would be excluding my children from if I stopped them going on school visits to this popular destination. I want my children to learn critical thinking, but the “critical approach” put forward by Noah’s Ark is a disingenuous redressing of a centuries-old story which has its place in our culture but has absolutely nothing to do with science education.”

  30. John C: Hilarious post, made me truly LOL 🙂

    Robert Stovold: “Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate” Genesis 7:7

    Great point, and it also highlights a mistake I made. I was thinking it was 7 animals of each clean kind, but as you point out its 7 PAIRS, so actually 14 animals of each clean kind.

    This always gets me, these guys keep talking about 1 pair of each type of animal, but the Bible clearly says 7 pairs. The reason they don’t like bringing this up is twofold. 1) It makes the logistics all the more impossible. 2) It draws attention to the fact that according to the story many of the animals were actually killed in ritual slaughter for god at the end of the trip…

    “Genesis 8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart.”

    I wonder if they plan to reenact this part of the story at the park?? (And it’s curious how all the children’s Bible story books leave this part out :p)

  31. charlie says:

    I was born in southern Wisconsin, dairy country. I spent the summer after I was released from active duty with the USMC on my uncles’ farm, mostly bailing/stacking hay among other jobs. Oh yeah, twice a day, before breakfast and before supper, milking and feeding the cows. And, to finish the job, getting all that manure out to the spreader. I shoveled lots of cow manure that summer. The funniest story of that summer was when we went to a neighboring farm, it was owned and run by an elderly lady and my uncle Fred and his boys planted and cut the hay for her on her land. They split whatever money they made from that deal. Any way, she did not have a dairy heard, just two milk cows. She ran sheep on her land. As we pulled into her yard to cut/bail hay, my cousin let out what I will never forget. He shouted over the tractor noise, “Eeewwwwwwwwww, sheep shit!” I nearly fell off the hay wagon laughing so hard. At supper that night I told the rest of the family and they ALL laughed at it. The house was about 50 yards from the dairy barn and my cousin had lived there his entire, at the time 17 years. Sheep shit DOES smell more pungent than cow shit, trust me.
    Sorry for being so far off topic, but yeah, lets see these good xtians deal with all that animal shit. Will they provide gas masks for the cleaning crew? How about for the visitors? Or, will the animals be trained to not poop/pee during visitation hours? I suppose their doG “could” make that happen, couldn’t he?

  32. Broga says:

    @Charlie: While we are on the subject of keeping the Ark clean there is no shit more foul than fox shit. My dog rolled in it and we could not remove the foul, powerful and penetrating smell. Finally, I got in the shower, my wife pushed the dog in, and I dowsed and soaked him till he was tolerable.

    Take my word for it. Noah will have problems with the foxes.

  33. AgentCormac says:


    I’ll see your fox shit and raise it by dead seal.

    One of our dogs recently came across a carcass which had been washed up on the local beach and he gleefully rolled in it, four legs in the air, until we got within a few yards. Not only did the bugger’s umska-encrusted coat stink to high Disney World in the sky, but, as you might imagine with this being rotting seal blubber, it also proved to be virtually impossible to wash out. The dog thought he had been rolling in Paco Rabbane, while for days we were gagging every time we went near the bloody thing.

    Does the offending canine still get mollycoddled by the missus? Of course it does!

  34. 1859 says:

    @Broga: You, your wife and the dog all in the shower! Great idea for a book! Talking about smells, about six months ago my wife suddenly woke up and swore at the clock because she had overslept. She leapt out of bed, dressed in about 10 seconds and fled the house. But, unknown to her, in the night, our cat had pissed all over her knickers! She is a teacher! I will not fill you in with the rest – far too embarrassing!

    I have actually solved the problem of all that poop in the new ark. It’s simple really – all the animals will have to wear pampers. The only difficulty I can foresee, however, is how to change a lion’s pampers?

  35. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: Agreed. Your seal trumps my dog shit. We have regular dead seals wash up. (At this point readers of a sensitive disposition who are prone to being shocked and stunned should read no further: stop now.)

    My Labrador will eat any putrid crap that he comes across. It has feasted briefly, before I hauled him off, on a dead seal. The result was beyond awful and not to be described to the gentle and refined visitors to this site.

    @1859: My wife didn’t get in the shower but as the dog showed reluctance to enter under the water she helped by pushing him in while I hauled him. Nice idea for a book though. I could become famous by writing a novel about a passionate romance involving a man, a woman and a dog. I might have to do some serious work on the sexual logistics of the dog involvement.

  36. Tim Danaher says:

    Steve Gates: it RAINED for forty days and nights… The ark was afloat much, much longer… Over a year, IIRC…

  37. Protista Amoeba says:

    Here’s acouple of interesting take-downs of the Noah’s Ark & flood BS.


    BTW, creationists, your wailing and gnashing of teeth is hilarious!

  38. Matt+Westwood says:

    … and don’t forget, once the logistics of cleaning and maintenance have been miraculously solved:

    “Mummy, what are … mummy, why is the big one, why is the big one on top of the, mummy, what’s that big thing under his tummy, mummy why is he …”

  39. […] I've helped manage and care for a wide assortment of wild and domestic animals, big and small, over the course of my career. There is a HUGE amount of paperwork, documentation, and inspections involved in having …  […]