If a group of birds are a flock, a group of whales is a pod, and fish gather in schools, what would one call a group of Noah’s arks? A fleet would be the easy answer, but that somehow doesn’t quite fit. How about a flood of arks?
However one might wish to describe them, there are at least six or seven arks, either completed, under construction or planned in the Netherlands, Turkey, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States.
Recently, the arks of Johan Huibers of Dordrect, the Netherlands have been in the news. In 1977 Johan completed his first ark, a half scale version of the Biblical ark which he opened as a tourist attraction complete with fiberglass giraffes. To date, his “ark” was attracted more than 600,000 visitors, generating $3.5 million in revenue and turning a profit of $1.2 million. He currently has a 450′ long full sized ark under construction. He hopes to bring his larger ark to London for the Olympic Games next summer.
Johan’s arks have about as much in common with the notional Noah’s ark, as his fiberglass giraffes have to do with giraffes on the Serengeti. Johan’s arks are actually more similar in construction to the Cutty Sark in that they have a steel keel and supported by steel structure. Historically, no wooden vessel over about 350 feet on deck has even been successful. The lack of longitudinal strength in wooden construction makes the ability to construct an ark as described in the Bible, to be highly unlikely at best. Of course, none of this worries the true believers who take the Bible literally and believe that the world is only around 6,000 years old.
Mr. Huibers is hardly alone in his construction of an ark. The three billionaire Kwok brothers in Hong Kong have built a shore based ark of 450-foot-long hull with a rooftop luxury hotel and 67 pairs of fiberglass animals. The Hong Kong ark is virtually its own theme park with theaters, playgrounds, gardens and rides.
In Grant County, Kentucky in the United States a Noah’s Ark theme park, which will include a full-sized shore-based ark as well as a Tower of Babel and various other Old Testament attractions, is also in the planning stages. The project is expected to cost around $160 million dollars and is intended to be funded in part by generous tax incentives from the State of Kentucky. The project is controversial as many question whether state financial support would violate the First Amendment separation of church and state.
There is also a 300 foot ark in Florenceville, New Brunswick, Canada. It is not quite built to Biblical proportions but the owners are happy enough with it. It is used as a dormitory and administrative offices for a local Bible college. Florenceville is also the home to the Potato World Museum.
For the last 30 years an “ark” has been under construction in Frostburg, Maryland but has ran out of funds. The “ark” has a concrete foundation and appears to have a steel frame. There seems to be a real shortage of gopher wood.
And last but not least, the environmental group Greenpeace built an ark on Mount Ararat in Turkey in 2007 “in an appeal to world leaders to take immediate action against climate change.”
Thanks to Carolina Salguero and Irwin Bryan for passing along articles about the flood of arks.