Noah's Ark Zoo Farm
|Location||Wraxall, North Somerset, United Kingdom|
|Land area||100 acres (40 ha)|
The zoo promotes an unusual branch of creationism and has been criticised for undermining education of both science and religion. In December 2009 it was expelled from the zoo industry's regulatory body for bringing the association into disrepute following a BBC investigation into its links with the Great British Circus.[needs update]
For 35 years, Noah's Ark proprietors Anthony and Christina Bush worked Moat House Farm as tenant dairy farmers. In 1995 they purchased the farm, sold the Friesian herd, and converted the farm's 310 acres (130 ha) to arable land and sheep raising.
In its early years, the zoo exhibited farm animals and small domestic animals as well as more exotic animals such as alpacas and llamas. The collection has expanded and now includes tigers, african lions and white rhinos among others. A webcam at the zoo showed the live birth of a male Brazilian tapir in April 2009. The zoo says it promotes animal protection and conservation, especially emphasising white rhinos, Siamang gibbons, and black and white ruffed lemurs.
In September 2012, the zoo started work on building a 20 acres (8.1 ha) elephant sanctuary which was due to open in May 2013. The Born Free Foundation has criticised the scheme as being too small for its purpose.
The zoo's hedge maze, planted in 2003, is 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) long. It has two parts; one is a large rectangle in green beech (representing Noah's Ark), in the other part seven 'monster animals' outlined in copper beech.
In October 2009 the BBC and the Captive Animals Protection Society charged that the zoo's tigers and camels were owned by the Great British Circus and that the owners had kept this arrangement secret from visitors and from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). The zoo owners replied that the zoo did not hold circus tigers and that its tigers came from Linctrek Ltd, a DEFRA-licensed collection that provides trained animals for films, television, commercials and zoos, and that Noah's Ark had accurately described the source of their tigers to interested visitors as a 'private collection'. One of the directors of Linctrek, Martin Lacey, is also the owner of the Great British Circus.
In December 2009, BIAZA stripped the zoo of its membership for what it claimed was the refusal of NAZF to provide BIAZA requested information and for bringing "the association into disrepute."[needs update]
Earlier in the year, the Western Animal Rights Network (WARN) and the Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS) made several claims of animal cruelty against the zoo, and charged that it regularly culled animals during winter months to reduce costs. The zoo denied these charges and explained that it had euthanised some chickens to protect the quality of the flock. In March 2010, an investigation by North Somerset Council into the claims made found that all CAPS allegations of animal cruelty against the zoo were "grossly unfair". However, zoo inspectors said there were some failures to comply with the Secretary of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Practice. As a result tighter licence conditions were imposed including bringing independent vets in to check every six months.
Anthony Bush is an Oxford graduate and Anglican Christian who advocates an unusual branch of creationism called "Recolonisation Theory". The Bushes named the zoo farm for the biblical Noah's Ark, and zoo displays argue the historical truth of both creation and Noah's flood. Bush has said, 'From the outside, our farm is not overtly Christian. But, from the inside, we are very strongly Christian. I am a Creationist, and we see the farm as a mission station to give people scientific permission to believe in God'. Although Anthony Bush believes in Noah's Ark, he does not accept flood geology and believes that the age of the earth is 100,000 years old—much older than the 6,000-10,000 years that Young Earth creationists believe, but much younger than the 4.54 billion year demonstrated by scientific evidence.
The zoo has been criticised by the British Centre for Science Education for "contradicting vast swaths of science needed to pass public examinations" contrary to its claim that it supports the National Curriculum. Ben Goldacre, author of the Bad Science column in The Guardian, especially criticised the zoo's statement, "To follow Darwinism is to recognise only the fleshly side of our natures, and, as we know, the flesh perishes; Darwinism, in other words, is a philosophy of death". To which Goldacre retorted, "Harsh words. Bring on the darkness". Goldacre also said that the attraction had "the distinction of being the only pseudoscience zoo in the UK". Professor Alice Roberts was heavily critical of the zoo for obscuring scientific facts and teaching a way of thinking that is incredibly rigid.
In February 2009 psychology professor Bruce Hood, director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre at the University of Bristol, described the zoo proprietor as "the delightful but completely delusional Anthony Bush" and claimed that although Bush had rejected young creationism, he "had constructed an elaborate but equally unscientific account of life on earth". In August 2009, the British Humanist Association urged tourist boards to stop promoting the zoo out of concern that it might "undermine education and the teaching of science", and has continued to campaign against the zoo as recently as February 2014. Vicar Michael Roberts, an authority on Darwin and geology, agreed that the BHA was "justified in criticising" the zoo and argued that church groups should have been more forthright in their criticism.
- "About us: Our History". Noah's Ark Zoo Farm. Retrieved 2014-05-11.
- "BCSE : Noah's Ark Zoo Farm". British Centre for Science Education. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
- "Alice Roberts and BHA complain to Michael Gove over Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm’s Quality Badge breaching 'no creationism' policy". 4 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-11.
- Roberts, Alice (8 December 2013). "Why I won't be going back to Noah's Ark creationist zoo". The Observer,. Retrieved 2014-05-11.
- "Zoo expelled from industry body". BBC News (BBC). 2 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- Bush sold the herd shortly before the BSE crisis hit and prices plummeted. Banner of Truth Trust website.
- "Webcam captures baby tapir birth". BBC News Bristol (BBC). 26 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-27.
- "Conservation," NAZF website.
- 'Attractions', NAZF website
- "Work starts on Wraxall elephant sanctuary". BBC News. 1 September 2011.
- Top 10 of Britain. Hamlyn. ISBN 9780600622512.
- "Noahs Ark Zoo Farm animal protests". Evening Post. Bristol News and Media. 21 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- "Recent Press Coverage". Retrieved 2009-10-19.
- Staff writer (6 November 2009). "Noah's Ark Zoo Farm hits back at animal cull claim". Bristol Evening Post (Bristol News and Media). Retrieved 2 July 2014.
- "Zoo cruelty claims are rejected". BBC News. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
- Russell, James (January 2, 2006). "James Russell: A fun day out for all the creationists". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
- "Darwin Has Done a Lot of Damage". Evening Post (Bristol News and Media). 23 September 2008. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- Harden, Rachel (5 May 2006). "Interview: Anthony Bush co-founder of Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm and former General Synod member". Church Times Online (Church Times). Archived from the original on 2007-05-26. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- Michael Shermer (17 February 2009). "A Skeptic Goes Inside Noah’s Ark". skepticblog.org. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- Goldacre, Ben (8 April 2004). "Where to find the alchemists of Fleet Street". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- Goldacre, Ben (12 June 2003). "Work out your mind". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- "University of Bristol Experimental Psychology". psychology.psy.bris.ac.uk. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- Hood, Brume M (4 February 2009). "Michael’s Trip to Noah’s Ark". brucemhood.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- "'Creationist' zoo causes dismay". BBC News (BBC). 26 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
- "Charles Darwin: a Fulcrum Appreciation". Fulcrum. Retrieved 2009-11-03.
- Roberts, Michael (2 October 2009). "Church Times — Noah’s Ark Zoo merits flak from humanists". Church Times Online. Church Times. Retrieved 2009-11-03.