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Dec 06 2013

Where’s IACUC when you need them?

Gwen Pearson makes a really good point about the Ark Park: there has been virtually no thought put into animal care, and it’s an abuse scene waiting to happen.

I’ve helped manage and care for a wide assortment of wild and domestic animals, big and small, over the course of my career. There is a HUGE amount of paperwork, documentation, and inspections involved in having captive animals. It is, frankly, a gigantic pain in the ass, and the animals are healthier and receive better care because of all the annoying, complex rules. That’s why the Ark project set off all sorts of alarm bells in my head.

Keeping animals in captivity is really, really difficult. By gathering animals together in an artificial environment you concentrate all the poop and pee, and just make it easier for diseases to rapidly spread. (Got a kid in daycare? You know exactly what I’m talking about.)

As caretakers we have an ethical duty to provide captive animals with the food and environment they need to stay healthy. Doing that takes specialized knowledge. If you have raptors or game birds, they can get bumblefoot just from the wrong kind of perches. Feeding an imbalanced diet, or just not noticing a raptor is off its food, can tip a bird into a metabolic crash. Ducks can get a fatal type of herpes.

And they’re doing everything backwards! They originally planned to stock their fake ark with a menagerie, and are now backing off and plan to use some live animals and a mix of animatronic and stuffed animals now, but this is exactly the reverse of what you do in setting up a facility that will contain live animals:

Those were some early ideas about how we’re going to lay things out, and we are going to fine tune those as we get the final plans back from the architects. The architects are planning the building, lighting, air conditioning, ventilation. Once that is done, then our display design team will take those plans… we have 132 bays that we’ll have available for exhibits.

Wait…they’re planning the ventilation first, and then they’ll think about how to shove animals into their 132 bays? How many ways can that go wrong?

I guess it’s only to be expected from idiots so remote from biology that they’ll design a zoo based on a few paragraphs of mythology in a religious text.


For those of you not imbedded in the academic bureaucracy, “IACUC” is “Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee”, an organization that oversees appropriate and ethical care of laboratory animals.

45 comments

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  1. 1
    Blueaussi

    In my somewhat limited experience, convincing architects that animals really do need that much space and that sophisticated a ventilation system is nigh on impossible. Showing them the cost of proper caging and equipment throws them into fits. When the building my lab is in was in the planning stages, it was not unusual to see one of the architects standing outside our director’s office, one hand on his hip, and an incredulous look on his face, muttering “For a goddamned mouse!” as he stalked off.

    If they’re going to have animals on display, however, they’ll have to pass USDA inspections, and most of the USDA inspectors I have met have no problem shutting down what they consider roadside zoos. They can’t even display common farm animals without a certain minimum amount of space and environmental enrichment. The requirements to display wild animals are even stricter.

    So, you know, I guess they could have a ladybug exhibit.

  2. 2
    davidgentile

    I doubt the conditions on the original Ark would have passed any reasonable test.

    Strange

    - that YHWH in his omniscience has seen fit for mankind to struggle in squalor throughout history.

    - how so many Abrahamists reject evolution when human culture is the very definition of it.

  3. 3
    Leslee

    We’ve got a guy here in Austin, TX trying to build an aquarium by purchasing exotic wildlife from the Florida Keys without the proper permits. He will be serving a year in jail for that.

    Maybe we’ll get lucky and the Ark Park will be shut down for the lack of the correct permits.

    Aquarium Partner Gets a Year in Fed Tank

  4. 4
    richardelguru

    Blueaussi
    Ladybird please! It’s not as if the are bugs,
     
     
     
    I suppose they aren’t birds either…
     
     
    Never mind.

  5. 5
    Ryan Cunningham

    Why is this taking project taking so much more than 40 days?

  6. 6
    Usernames are smart

    Why is this taking project taking so much more than 40 days? — Ryan Cunningham (#5)

    Genesis (KJV) has no such record of how long it took to build, but it does note in Genesis 5:32 (and 6:10) that on Noah’s 500th year, he got freaky and banged out three sons (no mention of who the mother(s) was/were). Some time after that, God tells him to build the Ark. Noah was 600 (Genesis 7:11) when the Ark was completed and the flood started.

    So… it takes an old feeb 100 years to build a big boat.

  7. 7
    Larry

    are now backing off and plan to use some live animals and a mix of animatronic and stuffed animals now

    Just like Noah did.

    Or Disney, without the fun and whimsy.

  8. 8
    billgascoyne

    I kinda doubt these people are competent enough to get this project built to the point where they could contemplate the purchase of any large animal.

  9. 9
    holytape

    This numbskulls are probably so stupid that they’ll put door handles on the door leading to the raptor pens. Sure, raptors are clever, but they’ll never learn to use a doorknob. Twenty minutes later, the entire park staff lays gutted, as the raptors prepare to take over Kentucky.

    richardelguru,
    Just call them Coccinellidae.

  10. 10
    mothra

    “. . . we have 132 bays that we’ll have available for exhibits.”

    I never knew that the creationists have got things whittled down to 132 baramins.

  11. 11
    alexmcdonald

    My daughter works in the zoo business in the UK, and she’s just finished a 3 month session with birds of prey. The requirements; 1000s of square feet for a handful of birds, separation of species, flying space, feeding that includes the procurement handling and appropriate killing of small rodents, cleaning, expensive vet services; the list goes on.

    She looked at this (the artist’s rendition) and went; no way. They’ll get shut down if they think keeping birds bigger than a budgie in that kind of environment is going to work.

  12. 12
    tbp1

    @#8: I’m not sure they’re even PLANNING to get that far. I can’t know for sure, but I suspect this has been a scam to raise money all along, with little or no intention to actually build the thing.

  13. 13
    Inaji

    Blueaussi @ 1:

    When the building my lab is in was in the planning stages, it was not unusual to see one of the architects standing outside our director’s office, one hand on his hip, and an incredulous look on his face, muttering “For a goddamned mouse!” as he stalked off.

    I have a *lot* of rats, and they have a very large space, and still, it’s much work to maintain a proper environment for them. People in general seem to give very little thought to appropriate environs and care when it comes to animals.

  14. 14
    Randomfactor

    Maybe we’ll get lucky and the Ark Park will be shut down for the lack of the correct permits.

    And they’ll pocket the donations and begin pounding the drums for a “persecuted Christian legal defense fund” which will similarly never get past the put-the-money-in-the-pot stage.

  15. 15
    Doc Bill

    All of you guys have totally missed the point. The Ark Park will NEVER GET BUILT. It’s a scam, pure and simple. Ken Ham has built a series of LLC’s inside of 501c shells to isolate his AIG business from the lawsuits following the ultimate collapse of the Ark Park adventure.

    Already, he’s raised something like $14 MILLION dollars through individual donations, which don’t have any return other than a tax write-off.

    Recently, the City of Williamstown has backed issuing $62 MILLION in unrated junk bonds for which none of the backers or issuers are responsible. That is, any “profit” the investors receive in the next decade or so would come strictly from the profits of the Ark Park itself. Minimum bond investment: $100,000

    Read that again. Neither Ham, nor the Ark Park shell companies nor Williamstown are on the hook to pay back investors if the project goes belly up.

    Of course the Ark Park is clueless about keeping animals. Think about it. Compare Six Flags over Texas with the Ark Park. The Ark Park will have an ark, petting zoo and Seven Plagues of Egypt “fun house” ride and a gift shop. That’s it. Who’s going to go there once, much less twice. Nope, the entire project is simply a scam to line the pockets of Ham and his minions. I know, he’s a horrible person. What else is new?

  16. 16
    BeyondUnderstanding

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I really want to see this ark completed. I mean, how great will it be to have a shining, physical, real-world example to show just how dumb the story of Noah’s Ark is.

    If teams of architects, engineers, and various professionals (with modern technology at their disposal) can’t build an ark that holds real animals… Doesn’t that hurt the idea of an old man and his kids building a boat from scratch in ancient times? Not to mention that even if it could hold live animals, only 132 bays?? haha Yeah cause there are only tens of millions of different land species that would have needed a ride…

    Noah’s Ark works on paper (for the willingly ignorant), but walking through (what’s supposed to be) a made to scale, “real” version of the Ark?… could it perhaps make the glaring problems with the story too real to ignore?

  17. 17
    cag

    But, but – surely a window 18 inches by 18 inches, left closed until the boat stops rocking some hundreds of days after being closed, is adequate for ventilating a watertight boat filled with animals, birds, serpents, insects, germs, viruses, and all varieties of living things and their ordure/urine. Surely there would not be any cases of oxygen privation or carbon dioxide poisoning in such an enclosure. Everyone knows that the methane produced by the decomposition of feces is one of the vital gases needed to sustain life.

    Scoffers, you have been refuted. All hale the lard.

  18. 18
    woggler

    Wait a minute. The ark is being planned by architects? Not boat builders?

  19. 19
    holytape

    @18,

    Architects? ‘Architects’ are involved with this project? I can only assume that word is is french for “someone with professional quality crayons.”

  20. 20
    Area Man

    If it weren’t for the massive amount of animal suffering it would cause (I’m indifferent to Ken Ham’s suffering), I would be all in favor of having them fill the thing up with animals. Then we could use the massive mortality rate as evidence that the Ark could never work. I’d also be in favor of locking a handful of workers in the thing with all the food they needed for several months to see how that worked out. And while we’re at it, let’s inundate the park and see if the sucker floats.

  21. 21
    robro

    I’m not too concerned about animals, yet. If they’re already backpedaling on live animals, by the time they actually get around to installing exhibits…if ever…all the animals will be stuffed or plaster. And that “if ever” is a big one.

    woogler #18 — It’s not really a boat, it will just look like a boat. In fact, from a picture Ham posted recently of the location, it will be in the middle of a field.

  22. 22
    alanuk

    I was disappointed when I put my headphones on and found that the chipboard was not really gopher wood.

    I know that in your country, anything claiming to be religious is automatically exempt from all laws and taxes (but may still claim government subsidies). But does this apply to building regulations? Is not this wooden structure with all its contents not just one big fire risk? Where are the emergency exits? Where are the fire escapes? If the customers are able to get out alive, what about the animals? Will some misguided person (probably English) start opening the cages to let them escape? If no naked flames are allowed, will pentecostals be banned from entry?

    Where does one buy ‘small, young giraffes’? And where does one sell large, not quite so young, giraffes? Anyway, there is no such thing as a ‘small’ giraffe. As for male sexual preferences, I don’t think Ken would approve, also they can hardly do it discretely.

    So many questions, so few answers.

  23. 23
    coffeehound

    @16,

    If teams of architects, engineers, and various professionals (with modern technology at their disposal) can’t build an ark that holds real animals…

    It may click with a few individuals, but I think with most people it will be blamed on those damned liberals demanding a living room set, jacuzzi and cable for each animal, not llike in the olden, ark days. Even if the failure of the basic design is the cause, they’ll blame it on big government bureaucracy and atheists making it fail. The ability of the human mind to rationalize beyond reason knows no bounds.

  24. 24
    grumpyoldfart

    Ken knows some nice people in the Government and they are always happy to bend the law in his direction. If he wants animals in the ark then he will have animals in the ark.

  25. 25
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re 16:

    Ham will simply declare it, “Proof of God’s POWER! All these ‘experts’ can’t build THE Ark using ‘modern technology’, then what more proof do you need that GOD made it possible? QED, gotcha, atheist scums.”

    Yes, Ham is a scam-artist, but what scam would be ART if it didn’t WIN regardless of the actual outcome. Either way, Ham wins even though everyone sees it as a total failure. What’s sad, is not Ham, but the number of poor suckrs who give him their money, no matter what turns out from what he says. Ham is just a reincarnation of P.T. Barnum: “There’s a suckr born every minute”.

  26. 26
    Rey Fox

    If teams of architects, engineers, and various professionals (with modern technology at their disposal) can’t build an ark that holds real animals…

    …then it was obviously a miracle. That’s the mindset here.

  27. 27
    BeyondUnderstanding

    I absolutely love the train of thought (or lack thereof) where God can’t use his infinite power to kill the bad population of humans (rain is somehow more efficient a killer than simultaneous heart-attacks or vaporization) or make a miraculous god bubble that protects Noah and his family. Nope, just rain and boat-making demands. Oh, but any logistical plot-holes in the story, like buoyancy issues or the sheer number of animals… then God (obviously) used his unlimited powers.

  28. 28
    sigurd jorsalfar

    In the end they will settle on cardboard cut-outs and a few cats. And that will totally show you atheists that the wholly babble is the Truth. It will also mean that my apartment is Noah’s Ark.

    However, my money is on this all being a scam designed to enrich Ken Ham and to prove, when the project fails, that liberals, gays and atheists are evil and Barack Obama is a Muslim.

  29. 29
    LykeX

    You certainly can’t help but notice that if someone wanted to run a scam, this would be exactly the way to do it. Lots of gullible people to toss dough in the pot, no way to hold anyone responsible when the venture fails and plenty of easy targets to blame the failure on, if needed.

    If you look at the actions they’ve already taken (solicit donations, issue junk bonds, blame obamacare for lack of progress), it’s starting to both look, walk and quack like a duck.

  30. 30
    Lofty

    Usernames are smart

    Genesis (KJV) has no such record of how long it took to build, but it does note in Genesis 5:32 (and 6:10) that on Noah’s 500th year, he got freaky and banged out three sons (no mention of who the mother(s) was/were).

    Well, there you have it. Ken Ham is just waiting until his 500th birthday to start the project. He should have scads of cash by then.

  31. 31
    jamesheartney

    So… it takes an old feeb 100 years to build a big boat. One of the many practical objections to the idea of the Ark was that if you take decades to build the thing, by the end the first bits you built (keel, skeleton) would have rotted, and the whole structure would collapse. Leaving aside engineering considerations, at a certain point they’d not be able to keep up with the maintenance required to protect the unfinished structure.

  32. 32
    yubal

    The architects are planning the building, lighting, air conditioning, ventilation.

    Wait? Noah had AC installed on the Ark? And if not, why do you?

  33. 33
    aziraphale

    re 31:

    Before the flood, there were no rainbows (Genesis 9:13)
    Therefore, no rain
    Therefore, much less tendency for wood to rot or iron to rust.

    Failing that, it was a miracle. What’s one more?

  34. 34
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    If you have raptors or game birds, they can get bumblefoot just from the wrong kind of perches.

    “Item one fifty-one on today’s glitch list. We’ve got all the problems of a major theme park and a major zoo, and the computer’s not even on its feet yet.”

  35. 35
    David Marjanović

    It’s not really a boat, it will just look like a boat.

    Will it? The original supposedly wasn’t a ship but an ark, like the Ark of the Covenant – a trunk chest. A big wooden box with a door that the LORD closed from the outside.

  36. 36
    yellowsubmarine

    Silly me. I thought the whole idea from the start was to fill his prison boat with animatronics and stuffed animals since live animals would obviously (even to Ken Ham?) be a complete disaster. I mean, the reason we have such strict regulations for zoos is because animals actually do NEED the space to not die. Or become too sick to take care of themselves. Which would be required after being released into the recently flooded wasteland at the end of Noah’s journey to extinction. Anyway, I’m sure Doc Bill is right and this is just a giant scam for money, but the whole idea that people would throw money at something THIS poorly fucking thought through with no regard for the animals involved…. what’s that you say? Religious people throw money at poorly thought through feel good crap all the time without considering the consequences? O right… yeah…. I forgot. Goddamit.

  37. 37
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    You know, there’s a little part of me that keeps expecting ol’ Ken to launch into a rousing chorus of “Springtime for Hitler” just to be sure the venture fails and he can pocket the money.

  38. 38
    lorn

    Anyone want to lay a bet on when the ark advocates will demand a religious exemption to the laws regulating the keep of animals?

  39. 39
    Rey Fox

    Raptors are birds of prey, dammit. Birds of prey. Fucking Jurassic Park ruined a perfectly good word.

  40. 40
    zenlike

    Raptors are birds of prey, dammit. Birds of prey. Fucking Jurassic Park ruined a perfectly good word.

    Indeed, and they weren’t even ‘raptors’ (velociraptors).

  41. 41
    raven

    Clueless.

    1. I gather that they were planning on putting their animals in their Fake Ark. Not going to work unless they are all rodents or something. Animals need space. Large animals need a lot of space. The zoos go to great lengths when they can afford it to give them something approaching their normal habitat.

    Animals are also diverse. Some birds need hard materials like oak to wear down their growing beaks, beavers and other rodents need the same because their front teeth keeping growing thoughout their life. Primates need a complex environment or they get neurotic.

    2. Ironically, if they try to house their animals the right way, they are going to prove that the Ark was impossible. Which is like reinventing the wheel. We already knew that.

  42. 42
    Elaine Watkins

    I guarantee, the people behind this whole Ark thing believe the biblical injunction that humans are to subdue the earth and dominate its other creatures. They believe the animals will do fine if they’re prayed over. And I wouldn’t put it past them for one second to employ the type of techniques favored by circuses to “tame” the animals. Oh, I hope for a rampage. A big one.

  43. 43
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    Even if we assume that the Ark from Genesis was real and as described, it was made from this magical “gopher wood” and only lasted in use for 375 days. They’re propsing to make it out of non-magical wood. How long do you think you could splatter a bit of wood with urine and feces before it rotted through? They can’t, even in their own little bubble of belief, expect the wooden poop chutes to last any length of time.
    Call me cynical, but I tend to concur with those who believe nobody really expects the project to ever finish. The reason they haven’t consulted animal welfare specialists prior to the architectural designs is that they know architects whom they wish to bring in on the gravy train of people who will walk away with the duped investors’ cash, but not any animal welfare types.

  44. 44
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    I have to admit, I kind of want them to finish it. Partly because BeyondUnderstanding @#16 has a very good point, but also because, with that many different animals, some non-human homosexual behaviour is practically guaranteed, and I’d love to see the look on Ken’s face when he sees it :)

  45. 45
    M'thew

    I think it was at Why Evolution Is True that I stumbled across this one:

    The impossible journey of Noah’s Ark

    It sums up practically everything that is just plain rong with Ken’s adventure. He couldn’t even hope to make anything beyond a scaled down maquette of the thing. Highly recommended reading, especially with regard to the whole zoo thing.

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