Tulsa Zoo to Add Creationism Exhibit


On June 7 the Park and Recreation Board of Tulsa, Oklahoma voted 3-1 to approve a display depicting the Biblical account of creation at the Tulsa Zoo. According to an Associated Press [Link broken] news report, the decision came after "more than two hours of public comment from a standing-room-only crowd."

Supporters of the proposed exhibit, including the Southern Plains Creation Society, claim that the zoo "already presents many religious views throughout the zoo property {Hindu gods, pantheism, new age philosophy, naturalistic evolution, and many others...", but ignores the Biblical account found in Genesis. At the meeting zoo officials reportedly explained that existing displays such as that of the Hindu god Ganesh outside an elephant exhibit are designed to illustrate the images different cultures have of animals.

Those supporting a creationism display were led by Tulsa resident Dan Hicks, who has proposed a format illustrating the six days of creation described in the first chapter of Genesis. Mr. Hicks also led an attack in 1995 on the zoo's presentation of scientific information about evolution. He was recently quoted in the Tulsa Beacon complaining about the zoo: "It teaches evolution as fact. That is one view. Why is my view excluded?"

At this week's meeting representatives of a number of organizations opposed the idea of injecting specific religious beliefs into the zoo, including the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance, Tulsa Metropolitan Ministers, Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, and the Tulsa Geology Society. Supporters of evolution education in Oklahoma will continue to follow this issue. Details of exactly what form a creationism exhibit may take are still unclear.

The Tulsa zoo opened in the late 1920s with about 35 animals. Today it contains about 1,500 animals and receives about 600,000 visitors per year.