A high volume of complaints have forced the Cincinnati Zoo to pull out of a special business partnership with the Creation Museum in nearby Petersburg, Ky., after running for less than three days.
The two institutions had come together to offer a special ticket package that gave visitors the opportunity to drop in on both at a discounted rate while promoting one another at the same time.
According to the Creation Museum's founder, Ken Ham, however, the zoo received hundreds of complaints, many of which were opposed to the faith and ideas that the museum presents.
"It's a pity that intolerant people have pushed for our expulsion simply because of our Christian faith," Ham said, expressing disappointment in the zoo's decision but also understanding of its perspective.
"Some of their comments on blogs reveal great intolerance for anything having to do with Christianity," he added.
The Creation Museum, which cost $27 million to build, is a 60,000-square foot facility that opened last year in May and revived the creation/evolution debate among Young Earth creationists, Old Earth creationists, anti-creationism evolutionists, and theistic evolutionists.
Packed with high-tech exhibits that include animatronic dinosaurs and a huge wooden ark, the museum attempts to align the Bible's literal account of creation with natural history. The museum's founder, like many other Young Earth creationists, believes dinosaurs appeared on the same day God created other land animals.
Critics, however, both non-Christians and Christians who are against a literal interpretation of the Bible on life origins, have protested and spoke out against the anti-evolution display, worried that their children will be affected. The controversy garnered the new exhibit a large amount of media coverage.
"Frankly, we are used to this kind of criticism from our opponents," Ham said regarding the latest controversy, "and so being 'expelled' like this is not a huge surprise."
Despite the zoo's decision, Ham said his museum would continue promoting the "excellent zoo" on its website and in printed material that is passed out inside of the museum.
"We are committed to promoting regional tourism," he explained.
Furthermore, the museum will still provide $9 off of the ticket prices (the amount of the discount under the original agreement) from Dec. 2 to Dec. 11, with the exception of Saturday, Dec. 6. "Get the Museum/Zoo Discount Anyway," the museum website says.
Beginning on Dec. 12, the museum will have up its special Christmas display, which includes a live outdoor nativity scene and a special lighted "Road to Bethlehem" trail. Visitors to the museum grounds will also be met with hayrides, seasonal lights and decorations, holiday food, and events and activities for children. Inside the museum, there will be special Christmas exhibits including the Planetarium presentation "The Bethlehem Star."
"We find the two – Creation and Christmas – go very well together," says Creation Museum co-founder and spokesperson Mark Looy, "and we invite our guests to experience each in light of the other at our special 'Bethlehem's Blessings – A Christmas Celebration' this December."
Located near the Cincinnati Airport, the Creation Museum is a ministry of Answers in Genesis, a nonprofit Christian organization dedicated to confirming the validity of the Bible from the very first verse.
Since its opening in May 2007, the museum has seen over 600,000 visitors.
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