Returning to work on a Monday morning after a long holiday weekend means one thing: hundreds of new e-mails in my Inbox. Coming back from Thanksgiving I had the usual assortment of press releases, spam and unsolicited guest editorials, along with some actually useful correspondence.
I also had more than a dozen e-mails with “Cincinnati Zoo and Creation Museum” in the subject line. Apparently last week the zoo started marketing a promotional tie-in with the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky, offering discounted admission at each facility.
Word got around about the cross-promotion, especially via online listservs, and the local media was hit with complaints. Zoo officials reportedly were barraged.
“I am saddened to hear that a fine, scientific and educational institution such as the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden have thrown in their lot with the unscientific — nay anti-scientific — organization of the Creation Museum,” a Toronto resident wrote in an e-mail that was typical of what I received. “This only serves to elevate the image of a religiously and ideologically motivated pseudo-scientific propaganda ‘attraction’ as infinitely more reputable than it is, while lowering an otherwise outstanding scientific and educational institution and the scientific methods and pursuit of education and knowledge it stands for.”
The Enquirer posted a story about the controversy on its Web site later that afternoon, and by the end of the day the zoo had canceled its Creation Museum promotion.
A zoo spokesman told The Enquirer, “When we partner with the Reds, we don’t get these kinds of e-mails.”
Well, unless I’m missing something while attending games at Great American Ball Park, the Cincinnati Reds don’t espouse a religious point of view that’s directly opposed to the zoo’s own mission. The Cincinnati Zoo and the Creation Museum would seem to be odd bedfellows.
The zoo is known for its Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), a state-of-theart research facility dedicated to saving species through scientific research. Its breeding successes are legendary.
The museum is known for its depiction of man and dinosaurs living together and the world being just thousands of years old instead of millions. Its owner, Answers in Genesis, recently released an anti-environmental DVD, Global Warming: A Scientific and Biblical Expose of Climate Change.
The admission deal is off, but the controversy continues.
The zoo is supported by a dedicated Hamilton County property tax levy; should an institution receiving public funds partner with a faith-based organization? The zoo is centered on a scientific approach to education and conservation; should it support a museum that discards evolution in favor of creationism and discounts global warming?
The museum has attracted 500,000 visitors since it opened 18 months ago; should society be more tolerant of their religious beliefs? What’s the big deal over two local organizations promoting each other’s holiday displays?
What do you think?
CONTACT JOHN FOX: firstname.lastname@example.org