17 Dec 2010

U.K. zoo that promotes creationism approved by government as destination for school field trips

Daily Mail - U.K. July 31, 2010

The zoo that believes in Noah's Ark: Creationist attraction is approved for school trips

By Laura Clark

A zoo that promotes creationism and believes that the story of Noah’s Ark is supported by science has become an approved school trip destination.

The move has provoked a war of words between the Christians who run Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm and those who believe it will expose children to ‘dogma’.

Visitors to the attraction are invited to question the traditional view of evolution and consider instead ‘the case for a Creator’ – with information boards challenging established science such as fossil records, carbon dating and the speed of light.

Critics say the decision to award it a Government kitemark is ‘entirely inappropriate’.

But bosses at the family-run zoo, in Wraxall, near Bristol, insist that workshops for children merely cover the national science curriculum and do not include discussion of religion.

They admit that youngsters visiting the centre are free to go to an area where posters and charts advance its religious beliefs.

James Gray, education officer at the British Humanist Association, condemned the award of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom ‘quality badge’ – a scheme devised by the last government.

He told the Times Educational Supplement: ‘It is entirely inappropriate that it should support an establishment that advances creationism and seeks to discredit a wide variety of established scientific facts that challenge their religious views.’

‘Teachers and parents look to the council for assurance that children will experience high quality educational visits that meet the relevant government guidelines.

‘Awarding this zoo a quality badge risks exposing hundreds of children to anti-scientific dogma.’

But a spokesman for the zoo, run by trained priest Anthony Bush and his wife Christina, said: ‘Our religious element is simply not forced on or taught to children in workshops at Noah’s Ark and thus we believe the BHA are misguided in their criticism.’

The centre insists it does not subscribe to the popular creationist view that the world was created 6,000 years ago. Instead it believes the earth is older and fossils tell the story of species reproducing after Noah’s flood.

The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom said it checks venues thoroughly and that children should experience a range of viewpoints that challenge their minds.

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