Noah's Ark Zoo Farm
Noah's Ark Zoo Farm Logo
|Location||Wraxall, North Somerset, United Kingdom|
|Land area||100 acres (40 ha)|
Noah's Ark Zoo Farm is a 100-acre (40 ha) zoo developed on a working farm in Wraxall, North Somerset, 6 miles (9.7 km) west of Bristol, England, which has the largest elephant enclosure in Europe. The zoo's Noah's Ark theme promotes a form of creationism that includes a belief that the biblical story of Noah's Flood was an actual cataclysmic event. In 2009 the zoo was expelled from British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the main industry regulatory body, "for bringing the association into disrepute".
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm was conceived by Anthony Bush (b. 1938), the son of a Wiltshire farm manager. Bush attended Monkton Combe School, served a stint as an officer in National Service with the Somerset Light Infantry, and attended Worcester College, Oxford, for a year before deciding to return to farming. In 1960 he became a tenant of Richard Gibbs, Lord Wraxall, at Moat House Farm, near Bristol, which Bush operated as a dairy farm. In 1962 he married Christina James, an art teacher, and they had four children. In 1968 Bush was elected onto the Somerset County Executive Committee of the National Farmers Union, and in 1980, he began a Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group to encourage farmers to conserve wildlife.
At Monkton Combe, Bush attended Christian Union meetings and "asked God who I knew was out there, to forgive me and to come into my life, to be involved with everyday stuff, change me and use me". Bush and wife became active at St. Philip and St. Jacob Church, helping to revive the church with a youth program. In 1967 Bush became a member of the Anglican Church Assembly, and in 1974 he and his wife established the Bristol Family Life Association, which lobbied on behalf of marriage education and against the use of obscenities on television. Later, the Bushes established Marriage Repair, a counselling service. In 1982, Bush became director of Mission England, which organised a Billy Graham evangelistic campaign in 1985 at Ashton Gate Stadium. In 1987, Bush helped found the African relief agency, Send a Cow.
In 1995 the Bushes purchased Moat House Farm from Wraxall, sold the Friesian herd, and converted the farm's 310 acres (130 ha) to arable land and sheep raising. Bush began to consider creating a Noah's Ark theme park in 1997; and in 1998, he constructed a barn, a café, a toilet block, and a children's play area. The park opened for a trial run in August 1998 and permanently in 1999. At first it exhibited farm and small domestic animals as well as some exotic species such as alpacas and llamas. The collection later expanded to include tigers, African lions, white rhinos, siamang gibbons, and ring-tailed lemurs. In April 2009, a zoo webcam showed the live birth of a male Brazilian tapir.
In September 2012, the zoo began building an elephant sanctuary of 20 acres (8.1 ha), and the first elephant arrived in February 2014. Before construction of the sanctuary the Born Free Foundation, which opposes holding elephants in captivity, said the acreage was too small for the purpose. The enclosure consists of a 1,080 sq. metre area where the elephants can sleep or shelter from the rain, and a 19.5 acre outdoor area with a 9 ft-deep heated swimming pool. The £1.8m development was partly funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and uses solar PV, biomass heating, and rainwater harvesting to provide nearly all power needed to operate the enclosure. An adjacent farm provides most of the food for the elephants.
In 2015, Noah’s Ark joined the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), which oversees management and conservation of protected species. The zoo is building an enclosure for two spectacled bears (Andean bears), scheduled to arrive in 2016.
Bush and the zoo promote belief in a form of creationism as well as the truth of the Genesis flood myth and explicate these beliefs at length at "earthhistory.org.uk". Bush does not accept flood geology, a Young Earth Creationist belief that the flood described in Genesis 6-8 was an actual event that produced most fossil bearing geological strata; rather he believes the earth to be about 100,000 years old, older than the 6,000 to 10,000 years that Young Earth creationists believe it to be but much younger than its actual age of 4.54 billion years.
Physical anthropologist Alice Roberts, professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham said the zoo had "absolutely nothing to do with science education" but noted of her visit that she saw little evidence of creationism until she entered a "large barn in the middle of the complex, which houses an auditorium and an impressive indoor children's play area," where she found many displays promoting creationism.
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 supported the National Curriculum)  and by Ben Goldacre, author of the Bad Science column of The Guardian. In August 2009, the British Humanist Association urged tourist boards to stop promoting the zoo on grounds that it would "undermine education and the teaching of science", a campaign continued as recently as February 2014. (In June 2015, the BHA named Alice Roberts "Humanist of the Year", in part because she had spearheaded its complaint against Noah's Ark Zoo.) In a letter to the Anglican Church Times, the Rev. Michael Roberts, an authority on Darwin and geology and a long-time opponent of the teaching of creationism in schools, argued that the British Humanist Association was justified in criticising the zoo and that "church groups should have been more forthright in their criticism".
Charges of professional misconduct
In October 2009 the BBC and the Captive Animals Protection Society charged that the zoo's tigers and camels belonged to the now defunct Great British Circus owned by Martin Lacey; and the zoo admitted a number of animals were on loan from Lacey, though none had taken part in any circus performances. In December 2009, BIAZA stripped the zoo of its membership for what it claimed was a refusal of Noah's Ark to provide BIAZA requested information and for bringing "the association into disrepute."
Also in 2009, the Western Animal Rights Network (WARN) and the Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS) said that the zoo had culled healthy chickens. A March 2010 report of an investigation by North Somerset Council called the CAPS allegations "grossly unfair", though because zoo inspectors found some failures to comply with the Secretary of State's Standards of Modern Zoo Practice, tighter licence conditions were imposed on the zoo, including inspection by independent veterinarians every six months.
- Africa The first animals arrived in the African section in 2005: two South African white rhinos. A Giraffe House opened in 2006, two African lions joined the Big Cat Sanctuary in 2010, and Elephant Eden welcomed its first African elephant in 2014. In 2015, Noah's Ark included four giraffes (two of which were born at NAZF), four lions, two African elephants, two white rhinos, two zebras, and a family of meerkats.
- Asia In 2009, Noah's Ark introduced two Bengal tigers to the newly built 'Tiger Territory', which later became the 'Big Cat Sanctuary'. Noah's Ark Asian section is also home to yaks, water buffalo, and two critically endangered  Bactrian camels.
- South America In 2006, Noah's Ark opened a Tapir House and Capybara House, and it has successfully bred both species. The South American section also features coatis, llamas and vultures.
- Australasia Three different Australasian species include Kunekune pigs, wallabies, and emus.
- Primates Noah's Ark is home to five primate species: Siamang Gibbons, black & white ruffed lemurs, ring tailed lemurs, marmosets and cotton-top tamarins. Three of the five primates (ruffed lemurs, tamarins and gibbons) are listed on the IUCN red list as either endangered or critically endangered. The primate section has successfully bred animals since its opening, most recently a baby Siamang gibbon. (The gibbons were moved to Noah's Ark as part of the European Endangered Species Programme in 2007.)
- Reptiles The Reptile House includes a Nile crocodile, leopard tortoises, and a royal python.
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.
- "About us: Our History". Noah's Ark Zoo Farm. Retrieved 2014-05-11.
- Anthony Bush, From Cows to Tigers: Building Noah's Ark (privately published, 2012), 11-62.
- Bush, 119, 123; "Farmer turned zookeeper is a man with a mission", Bristol Post, May 21, 2012.
- Bush, 23-24.
- Bush, 83, 89-94, 107; Viewer & Listener. In the early 1990s, Bush prepared for ordination as an Anglican priest, but his bishop, Jim Thompson, refused to ordain him, telling Bush he did not like his "theological certainly" (158).
- Bush, 126-34. In 1996 Bush also chaired a four-day evangelistic campaign in the same stadium for the Argentinian-American evangelist Luis Palau (166-67).
- Bush, 145-52; Send a Cow website.
- Bush sold the herd shortly before the BSE crisis hit and prices plummeted. Banner of Truth Trust website.
- Anthony Bush has self-published a history of the zoo, From Cows to Tigers - Building Noah's Ark (Moatwell Press, 2012). ISBN 978-0957202108 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22892928-building-noah-s-ark. Post, Bristol (2015). "Farmer turned zookeeper is a man with a mission | Exeter Express and Echo". exeterexpressandecho.co.uk. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- Bush, 201-07.
- Getty images.
- Bristol Post, May 29, 2014
- "Webcam captures baby tapir birth". BBC News Bristol (BBC). 26 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-27.
- "Noah's Ark Zoo Farm to launch five-star spa hotel – for elephants". Bristol Post. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
- "Work starts on Wraxall elephant sanctuary". BBC News. 1 September 2011..
- "Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm gives endangered bears new home". North Somerset Times. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
- "There are some obvious similarities between apes and man, such as skeletal features, placental birth, nails instead of claws (albeit very slow growing in apes) and susceptibility to certain diseases....I felt it was time apes and other primates were seen to be in a different order to man. So perhaps God took the ape blueprint and added a huge number of modifications to their frontloaded DNA to make Adam and Eve as the first humans." Anthony Bush, From Cows to Tigers: Building Noah's Ark (privately printed, 2012), 233.
- Roberts, Alice (8 December 2013). "Why I won't be going back to Noah's Ark creationist zoo". The Observer,. Retrieved 2014-05-11.
- "BCSE : Noah's Ark Zoo Farm". British Centre for Science Education. Retrieved 2009-02-17.
- 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. 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'. 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.
- "Why a new approach is needed". Noah's Ark Zoo Farm. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
- "About Us". Noah's Ark Zoo Farm. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
- "A record of Earth’s recolonisation". Noah's Ark Zoo Farm. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
- Michael Shermer (17 February 2009). "A Skeptic Goes Inside Noah’s Ark". skepticblog.org. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- Answers in Genesis, a young earth creationist organization, has called "Recolonisation Theory" incompatible "with a plain reading of Genesis" and complained that while proponents "claim to have a high view of Scripture, it is noteworthy that they have allowed their ‘science’ to lead their understanding of the Bible, rather than the reverse'. Monty White and Paul S. Taylor, 'Recolonisation Theory the Latest Compromise'.
- Bush says "I'm not the kind of creationist who believes the world was created in 4,000 BC; Noah would have appeared around 20,000 BC." Taylor, Craig (2015). "We love each other: Anthony & Christina Bush | Life and style | The Guardian". theguardian.com. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- On Recolonisation Theory, the variety of creationism advocated by Bush, see Earthhistory.org.uk.
- Goldacre, Ben (8 April 2004). "Where to find the alchemists of Fleet Street". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- Goldacre noted 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".Goldacre, Ben (12 June 2003). "Work out your mind". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- Asked by the New Statesman in July 2011 why he did not believe in God, Goldacre replied, 'I just don't have any interest either way, but I wouldn't want to understate how uninterested I am....I'm not sure that's accurately covered by words such as "atheist", and definitely not by "agnostic". I just don't care.' http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2011/07/god-evidence-believe-world.
- "'Creationist' zoo causes dismay". BBC News (BBC). 26 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
- "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.
- British Humanist Association website (accessed 6 November 2015).
- "ChTm". ukpressonline.co.uk. 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
- British Centre for Science website.
- "Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm does business with (another) notorious circus trainer - Captive Animals Protection Society". captiveanimals.org. 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- "BBC NEWS | England | Somerset | Zoo admits connection with circus". BBC News (London: BBC). Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- "Zoo expelled from industry body". BBC News (BBC). 2 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
- This is Bristol (2015). "Noah's Ark Zoo Farm stripped of its BIAZA membership | Bristol News | Bristol Post". bristolpost.co.uk. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- 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.. CAPS claimed that the zoo regularly culled animals during winter months to reduce costs. The zoo explained that it had euthanised some chickens to protect the quality of its flock.
- "Zoo cruelty claims are rejected". BBC News. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
- Top 10 of Britain. Hamlyn. ISBN 9780600622512.