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.