Tuyển dụng Tuyển Biochemist/ Entomologist cho PTN công ty VF tại Hà Nội

#1
VF = Vestergaard Frandsen, Head quarter: Thụy Sỹ, website: http://www.vestergaard-frandsen.com/
Nội dung thông báo tuyển dụng như sau:
____________________



Vestergaard Frandsen is a rapidly growing company specialized in complex emergency response and disease-control textiles. We are guided by a unique Humanitarian Entrepreneurship business model, the "profit for a purpose" approach that has turned humanitarian responsibility into our core business.

Our innovative products and concepts include PermaNet® long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito bed nets and curtains, ZeroFly® insecticide-incorporated plastic sheeting, and LifeStraw® water filters. Vestergaard Frandsen’s newest offering, CarePack®, provides a set of evidence-based preventative interventions to improve the health and lives of HIV positive individuals. These tools are all specifically designed to prevent the waterborne, vector-borne and neglected tropical diseases which disproportionately affect the developing world.

With headquarters in Switzerland and branch offices in the USA, UAE, Denmark, India, Ghana, Nigeria, Vietnam, Kenya South Africa and Indonesia,, and licensed production in Vietnam and Thailand., Vestergaard Frandsen is able to provide a rapid response to complex emergencies and disease outbreaks. We work in tandem with the United Nations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), National Ministries of Health, charitable organisations and commercial distributors, to ensure our lifesaving innovations reach those most in need.

Researcher – Biochemist/ Entomologist

The Laboratory researcher is to work on laboratory and research project activities to support vector product development. The Vestergaard-Frandsen Vector laboratory is an ISO IEC 17025 accredited lab based in Hanoi.

Responsibilities

Some of your responsibilities will include:

1- Implement and coordinate laboratory studies as defined by the Asia Laboratories Manager in Vietnam

• Establish/ implement/ modify testing design and testing protocols in assigned lab studies
• Coordinate resources in the team, coach and motivate research team members
• Ensure results are delivered according to the agreed timelines
• Ensure the testing activities to be run properly
• Follow standardized data collection, recording and reporting procedure
• Chair study review meeting within the study group. Attend/ chair internet/ Skype conferences/ meetings
• Participate as a team member in studies upon requirement

2- Coordinate operations of the laboratory activities

• Train laboratory staff in cooperation with the laboratory manager, the head of entomology and other relevant VF departments
• Maintain testing standard according to ISO-IEC 17025 procedures


• Assist Biolab manager in the maintenance of the required production for experimental needs in mosquito colonies control
• Ensure regular checking of the resistance status (susceptible mosquito strains and resistant mosquito strains)
• Work closely with the Ivory Coast Lab in maintaining, controlling and testing Anopheles mosquitoes
• Review, report and publish data collected
• Provide demonstration to customer visit
• Order required laboratory equipment and reagents
• Bring any appropriate assistance if requested

3- On-going communication with relevant internal departments at Vestergaard Frandsen and with the Ivory Coast Lab


Personal profile

• Fluent in English and Vietnamese
• At ease with numbers and statistical analysis
• Good technical skills in experimental design, data management, data analysis, Entomology and good knowledge on insecticide resistance
• Achievement oriented: ability to work independently, a self-starter, self-motivator taking initiatives
• Relationship building skills : strong ability to create and maintain relationships across borders and used to work with a wide variety of people with different personalities and backgrounds
• Communication skills: excellent writing skills
• Fast Pace: enthusiastic with high energy and passionate to make a difference
• Analytical, critical and creative thinking: Analyses problems effectively and solves complex issues. Considers the long term impact and anticipates future consequences and trends. Attention to details and accuracy


Education
• A PhD or MSc in Infectious Diseases/ Entomology/ Biochemistry

Experience

• At least 3 to 5 years experience working in a laboratory
• Some experience in project management
• Experience in an international laboratory setting
• Work experience in intercultural conditions, ideally in Africa/ Asia and Europe
• Good working knowledge on insect control techniques and insecticides
• Reasonable level of biochemical knowledge on insecticide modes of action and resistance mechanisms

The Researcher will be based in Vietnam and report to the Biolab manager. If your profile matches the above description, please send us your CV and motivation letter in English to the following email address: jobs@vestergaard-frandsen.com. Please mention the recruitment source in your application.
 

nakai

New member
HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.
This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.
"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."
The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.
It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.
"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."
Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.
Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.
There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.
"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.
A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.
"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."
The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.
Other replicas of Noah's famous ship have been built around the world.
A huge fiberglass ark sits at the center of a Hong Kong Noah's Ark attraction, and another floating ark in the Netherlands is being built by a Dutch man, who wants to sail it to London for the 2012 Olympic games. Closer to home, a church in Frostburg, Md., is building a to-scale ark supported by a steel frame.
But attractions with religious themes can be a risky venture, according to an amusement park expert.
"In some ways it's a two-edged sword: If you go for the religious market, you already have something that is somewhat unique in the market, and that particular market is known to be willing to make a special effort, to drive an extra distance, to get the church groups to go out and make a special outing," said John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors of Richmond, Va.
"The problem with that approach is you always risk bordering on being disrespectful if not sacrilegious," Gerner said. "There is a line as far as what you can do in this approach."
Some in the state hope it will be a major attraction. A feasibility study on the Ark Encounter declared that the park would attract 1.6 million visitors in its first year, Zovath said. The smaller Creation Museum has attracted well over a million people since it opened four years ago.
State officials are banking on the park's success and the 900 jobs it is expected to create, by making the project eligible for more than $40 million in sales tax rebates if the Ark Encounter hits its attendance marks.
Tying state incentives to a religious theme park has also attracted some criticism, though notably less than The Creation Museum, which received no state support. That facility was built on private donations.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group, has said the park would run afoul of constitutional law.
"Noah didn't get government help when he built the first ark, and the fundamentalist ministry behind the Kentucky replica shouldn't either," the group said in a statement. But so far they have taken no legal action.
Kagin said challenging the project in court would likely be a losing battle because of the way the tax incentives are structured.
"The legislation is so drafted that they will give this incentive to any organization that is going to increase tourism in Kentucky," Kagin said. "And there's no question whatsoever that this group will."
Zovath said construction on the ark is expected to begin in the spring.
 

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