Saturday, 24 July 2010
Noah's Ark Zoo wins an award
Noah's Ark Zoo in Wraxall, North Somerset has won a Learning Outside the Classroom Quality badge for its schools programme.
This is surprising for two reasons.
Firstly, an investigation by the Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS) and the BBC Programme Inside Out found that the zoo was breeding tigers for a controversial circus owner and that staff were under strict orders not to tell anyone.
One of the tigers died 10 days after giving birth to four cubs, one of which also died. The zoo claimed that she died from Feline Infectious Peritonitis but there was no proper post-mortem. The tiger's head, paws and skin were cut off and the body was buried in breach of animal disposal legislation.
A woman working undercover for CAPS found the head in a freezer. According to CAPS, the zoo's education officer, also a qualified vet, admitted to her that the burial was illegal, that she turned a blind eye and that no proper examination was done, even to check if the tiger had died of something infectious. The education officer told the undercover worker that the tiger's owner (the circus) wanted the head and paws.
As a result of the CAPS investigation, the zoo lost its membership of the trade body BIAZA - the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Nevertheless, North Somerset Council has recently approved plans for an elephant house.
Secondly, it's a creationist zoo. The website says:
'Undoubtedly, Darwin helped science to see that nature is continually changing, but along with this great progress there began a subsequent movement to remove any notion of God from our understanding of life. This is unjustified and we look to put the case for the Creator across to those who wish to investigate'
'Is it right for Darwin's evolutionary theory to be portrayed as "fact" in today's scientific media and the idea of God generally abandoned?'
'Important scientific theories have been proposed and much research done on the subject, but these, while widely accepted, have serious problems with them. After looking at the current explanations for origins and evolution; it is our view that the evidence available points to widespread evolution after an initial Creation by God'.
And much more.
According to the LOTC website, the award is judged on 'six high level generic quality indicators'. They are:
1. The provider has a process in place to assist users to plan the learning experience effectively;
2. The provider provides accurate information about its offer;
3. The provider provides activities or experiences which meet learner needs;
4. The provider reviews the experience and acts upon feedback;
5. The provider meets the needs of users; and
6. The provider has safety management processes in place to manage risk effectively.
As long as your learner needs don't include animal welfare, science or the meaning of the words 'fact', 'evidence' and 'theory', then you're fine. Are teachers keen for pupils to learn that God made everything or do they ignore that part as long as the kiddies can look at the nice animals?
The Bristol Animal Rights Collective has a petition against the zoo and holds regular protests outside. There's a big demo on August 30th.
Incidentally, according to Genesis 7:2-3, the animals didn't all go in two by two. The clean went in seven by seven and the unclean two by two. The seventh of each clean species was sacrificed once they reached dry land (v20). Which must have taken quite a long time.
UPDATE 18 August 2010
My comments to a Welsh newspaper on the zoo.