Animal Welfare.

I have mentioned before that in my current position I’m responsible for the welfare of both cows and captive wild animals.
What I haven’t talked about is that there is a HUGE amount of inspection, paperwork, and documentation involved in having those animals.  It is, frankly, a gigantic pain in the ass, and the animals are healthier for it.

While there are many, many obvious reasons why the Ark Park is a stupid idea, and it’s even stupider to have state funds sponsor it, what I keep thinking is:  “What about the animals?”

That popped into my head when I was reading this NYT story:

“In the interest of verisimilitude, the ark is to be built with wooden pegs and timber framing by Amish builders, Mr. Zovath said. 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,” said Mr. Zovath, a retired Army lieutenant colonel heading the ark project. “We want to show how Noah would have taken care of them, taken care of waste management, taken care of water needs and food needs.”

Oh no they didn’t.
They didn’t really just say that, did they?

“Juvenile-sized” animals will GROW UP.  God will not provide for them–humans have to.
Where will the older animals go?  Will they be sold to game farms for hunters to shoot? Will they be euthanized and made into Arkburgers?
How will a continuous supply of exotic immature animals be delivered?
If these animals are housed in a giant wooden boat, how is it a good experience for the animals to be jammed in an artificial environment with lots of loud people and a bunch of other animals (some of which will be predators)?

Those are just a few of my questions for the Ark Park.

If in fact Answers in Genesis is planning to run a zoo, they should seek accreditation by AZA: The Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  This is an international body of scientists and experts in animal care.  I invite you to look over the (63 page) AZA Accreditation standards for 2011.  Here is the guiding AZA philosophy:

“Animals must be well cared for and displayed in naturalistic settings that provide an educational experience for visitors and an appropriate enriching environment for the animals, including proper social groupings.”

Additional AZA Standards:

“Animals should be displayed in exhibits replicating their wild habitat and in numbers sufficient to meet their social and behavioral needs.”

Is that what is planned for these animals? Hell no.
Young giraffes held away from regular social groupings? Requiring animals that roam open savanna to stand in a stall?
I predict it will take about 2 weeks for major hoof problems to develop for these poor animals.  And that’s just the giraffes.  I don’t want to even imagine what they would do to an ape or an elephant.

AZA also has clear guidelines for what are called “program animals”; animals that are involved in public show-and-tell sessions, including handling by a keeper or the public:

“standards require that education and conservation messages must be an integral component of all program animal presentations. “

Uh, I’m guessing that ain’t happening either.  In particular since there are clear statements that the folks responsible for this travesty don’t believe in global warming, and subscribe to the dominion flavor of biblical interpretation, rather than stewardship.

Of course, this standard could also be a major impediment to AZA accreditation right here:

4.3. Evaluation/Interpretation
4.3.1. Exhibits, interpretive programs and other education programs should be evaluated on a regular basis for effectiveness, content, and updated with current scientific information.
4.3.3 The exhibit graphics and other interpretive devices should be based upon current scientific knowledge….”

Heh.  But I digress.

I am not a PETA supporter. I eat meat.
But like Temple Grandin, I believe we have an ethical and moral duty to provide animals in our care with a good life.

The “Ark Adventure” is actually going to be an adventure in animal cruelty.


For the curious: You can see the full press release and press kit here; it’s…astonishing.  And not at all suited to animal welfare.
Here are some highlights from the website:

  • Noah’s Ark: A full-size Ark, built to biblical dimensions, will be located outside the walled city. Guests will be able to tour the Ark and be immersed in the times of the Bible through highly themed scenes and presentations. This walk-through of the Ark will enable each guest to gain an understanding of how it could have been built, and how Noah, his family, and all of the representative kinds of land animals were cared for, and then survived on board for 370 days of the Flood
  • Noah’s Animals: This fun area will provide Ark Encounter guests with the opportunity to learn more about some of the animal kinds that were on the Ark. This area will be similar to a petting zoo, complete with barns, a petting animal area, an open grazing area, a stage for daily live animal and bird shows, and lots of meet-and-greet areas for close-up encounters with unique animals and birds.
  • Aviary: This will be a fascinating walk-through attraction with several viewing platforms inside three types of bird sanctuaries. Each sanctuary will allow guests to get close to the birds in a natural setting. A nearby butterfly emporium will be visually stunning as well.

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Models built to scale would be far less costly, and still be relevant to the point they’re trying to make.

  2. They did such a good job with animatronics at their Church/AMuseum. And they can use fake poop and stuff if they want to make a point. This is one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard of.

  3. Having mucked a few stalls in my younger days, I’ll predict that if wiser heads with better math skills don’t nix the idea of a constant stream of animals, then trying to keep up with the waste from even a small number of even young hoofed animals in cramped quarters using Chalcolithic or at best Bronze age technology (if they even stick with any attempt at accuracy – and using Amish carpenters with steel tools argues against that) will do them in.

    I wonder how well wooden floors will hold up under the constant assault of uric acid and ammonia.

    I suspect quite strongly that none of these nit-wits has ever actually kept large animals, have no idea just how much urine and manure they’re going to have to deal with, and just how absurd the fanatasies of Maplethorpe and other Ark idiots are regarding waste disposal.

    On the other hand, we might see a lot of de-conversion experiences among those who actually try to make this non-sense work.

    Watching the organizers try to explain why they switched from live animals to animatronic ones could also be fun, as they try to avoid admitting that it’s just not possible to cram a wooden boat full of urine and manure generating machines with only a crew of 8 to keep up with them.

  4. 1. uh… is this actually going to happen? 2. THANK YOU for articulating the MANY reasons why it’s unethical and unsupportable. 3. I like their elegant use of language: “opportunity to learn about some of the animal kinds that were on the Ark.” Animal kinds? What are they, six years old? 4. THANK YOU again. =)

  5. I think before they are allowed to put even one animal in a big boat, they should first demonstrate how they will collect and accommodate every species of living thing, including every fricking beetle.

  6. I remember one time I used to post a critique on my site on how animals were well cared for in Ham’s petting zoo and all I got was a comment posting from one of the AiG employees saying how well they’re caring for the animals and how every time the inspection came to inspect the animals, they wound up passing the inspection. How are they inspected? Or is it an act of bribery to deter them from knowing how they are really treating the animals? Anything to deter anyone like from the truth about how they are really dealing with animals, don’t you think? I would honestly like to know how are they really treating the animals and what are they hiding from the public concerning animal care? That’s my suspicion about it.

  7. This is my first visit to your blog – had no idea about this Ark nonsense. It’s late, but I like your style…I’ll be back. ;-)

  8. Holy crap! To get the full experience, visitors should be required to spend 370 days aboard the “ark.” Live animal and bird shows? I guess it’s kinda like a floating cruise. Hope the buffet is also of biblical proportions. This will literally be Holy Crap.

  9. I had the exact same concerns the second I saw “baby Girraffs”

    I wouldn’t trust these morons with a gerbil

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