Last Saturday I paid a visit to Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, a Christian-run creationist zoo near Bristol. I normally associate creationism, and especially creation-themed entertainment facilities, with the States, so I was interested to see the British take on religious codswallop.
This is what greeted me as I arrived at the zoo. I figured they'd be protesting the zoo's Christian agenda, but it turned out they were there to inform everyone about the zoo's other agenda, that of keeping a tiger's head in the staff room freezer.
This is a rhino, one of God's most wondrous creations. Did you know that horn in the middle of its face isn't actually a horn? It's made of thickly matted hair that grows from the skull without skeletal support. God really does move in mysterious ways. Though I went in there looking for Christian stuff, it took me a while to actually find any. Beyond the name, there's almost no mention of Christianity on the marketing materials or zoo signage.
I'd started to think that the zoo's brainwashing techniques were so subtle that I wouldn't be able to find any evidence of it until I returned home with the Glory of God in my heart and started stigmatizing my palms. Thankfully, when I entered the reptile house I saw this gem. TLDR: We know God made snakes because The Bible said so and science can't really prove otherwise.
But then it was back to standard zoo stuff. Like this guy.
Slightly disappointed at the lack of a burning madman agenda, I continued to wander. Until I stumbled upon this place, the mecca of their insanity, a Noah's Ark shaped theatre and adventure playground.
In the main part where all of the slides and stuff are there was a bunch of posters stuck up that explained the three theories of where life on earth came from. The old classics of: evolution ("our brief look at the fossil record suggests that the evidence falsifies this theory"), creation ("In our opinion, there are many problems with this view") and then a third, brand new theory called "recolonization theory," which is recommended by the zoo "as best satisfying the scientific evidence." This is the theory that the zoo has been built to promote. So what exactly is this new proposal?
To be honest I never managed to work that out. There was a pretty overwhelming amount of information on display, and most of it was super vague. They seem to subscribe to the "innocent until proven guilty" school of science: Everything that science is able to conclusively disprove, they'll accept. Everything else is God's work. But here's some stuff that I did learn during my endless hours of staring at boards and saying "whaaaat?" while shaking my head…
Fact 1: God allows his subjects to suffer for various reasons and you're an idiot if you focus too hard on the negative side of negative stuff. Think of the good side as well, like the fact that you have nerve endings that let you know you're being slowly tortured to death in a concentration camp. And natural disasters? You don't have to die in those. God gives you plenty of warning. Like Japan, God gave you guys seven whole minutes to get your shit together and GTFO. Stop whining.
Fact 2: Contrary to popular belief, the British Royal Family did not descend from lizards. They actually are direct descendants of Adam. This board proves that somehow.
Fact 3: 71.6% of the British population identify as Christian. Oh wait, did I say "British population"? I meant "readers of conservative newspaper The Sun." Didn't mean to mislead you there!
Fact 4: Noah's Ark totally happened. We know this because A) The Bible said so, B) some Greeks said so, C) some bullshit about radiation and rocks that I didn't really understand said so, and D) because they asked some boat experts if Noah's Ark would float IRL and they said it would. So there.
One of my favorite things about deeply religious people is how unbelievably naive they are when it comes to double entendres. True wild asses come from Africa, eh? Imagine the joy of being a teacher leading a class of twelve year old boys past that one.
If you're Richard Dawkins, and you're stressing out, then calm down Richard. You'll be happy to know that the zoo doesn't pose too much of a threat to science and reason. True the walls are covered in lies, but look at these kids: How many do you reckon are cogitating on the wordy posters explaining that owls can't possibly have evolved because they have weird stomachs? And how many do you reckon are excited about the adorable baby lamb that's about to be brought out?
As always, this place suffers from the eternal Christian problem: They have no fucking idea how to combine their boring nonsense with stuff that kids are actually interested in. Islam has the virgins and words like "Jihad," Jews have the cool secret society vibe, Sikhs have huge knives and drink loads, but Christianity has paedophiles and piety. No kid's going to buy that, though full marks to them for trying to combine the awesome fun kid stuff with the crazy bullshit propaganda stuff:
A laminated computer printout taped onto a Little Tykes play house? More like a child-brainwashing chamber! I suppose the only thing that really set off my atheist outrage alarm was when they'd put their crazy stuff on the signs on the animal enclosures because that's something that people actually do read and assume is true:
Check the bottom right of this sign. Bet you guys didn't know that tapirs aren't related to any other animal and "appear to be a separate Created kind," huh?
Or that birds don't just sing for practical reasons, but also to "praise their Maker"? Know why you didn't know that? Because it's FUCKING INSANE.
So yeah, there you have it, very few kids are going to bother to read their madness, but maybe you should take the kids to Bristol zoo instead just to be safe. It's only 15 minutes away, costs about the same to get in, and they have way better animals.