A simple business relationship between two popular attractions in the Cincinnati area has turned into a national controversy.

Over the weekend, the famed Cincinnati Zoo announced on its website that it was featuring a combo ticket package with AiG’s Creation Museum, one that would save visitors $9. By Monday morning, the zoo had received such a firestorm of criticism from atheists and other evolutionists about the business relationship (much of it coordinated from outside the region) that the zoo pulled the plug on the short-term arrangement.

Below is the news release we composed (in conjunction with our publicist) as the media calls began to come in to our offices. In addition, for an in-depth look on the zoo flap, and to read some of the newspaper articles about it (including a national story circulated by the Associated Press, plus the top story in our hometown newspaper the Cincinnati Enquirer on Tuesday), go to Ken Ham’s blog. At the blog, you will also read a selection of some strikingly intolerant comments from those who attack Christianity and applaud the zoo for ending the tourism partnership.

Creation Museum Disappointed by Cincinnati Zoo Withdrawal

After working for months with the Cincinnati Zoo on a special cross-promotion package to elevate local and regional tourism during the Christmas season, the Creation Museum learned that the zoo—after a 2 ½ day business relationship—has pulled out of the arrangement because of a high volume of complaints.

“We are disappointed with the zoo’s decision and its impact on the families and visitors to the region who would have enjoyed taking advantage of this opportunity to make this a truly memorable Christmas,” said Answers in Genesis and Creation Museum founder and president Ken Ham. “Both the Creation Museum and the Cincinnati Zoo have put together spectacular Christmas displays, and we were excited to partner with them to promote these events in a combination package that would have been of great value to the community.”

“My family and I have been Cincinnati Zoo members for more than 10 years now, so I am also personally saddened that this organization I esteem so highly would find it necessary to back out of this relationship. At the same time, I have learned that the zoo received hundreds of complaints from what appear to be some very intolerant people, and so I understand the zoo’s perspective. Frankly, we are used to this kind of criticism from our opponents, and so being ‘expelled’ like this is not a huge surprise,” Ham continued.

The Cincinnati Zoo/Creation Museum short-term partnership allowed visitors to purchase one-day regular admission tickets to each attraction for a combined price of $25.95 (adult price), a savings of $9 over regular ticket price at each location. The tickets were available online only through the zoo’s website, with the Creation Museum helping to drive traffic to the zoo’s website and its promotion with the museum. The zoo already has promotional arrangements with other regional institutions, including the Cincinnati Reds in the past.

“Our museum will continue to promote this excellent zoo on our website and also in the printed material we pass out inside the museum. We are committed to promoting regional tourism. It’s a pity that intolerant people have pushed for our expulsion simply because of our Christian faith. Some of their comments on blogs reveal great intolerance for anything having to do with Christianity,” Ham added.

Because this package will no longer be available, the museum has decided to continue to offer this savings on museum tickets December 2–11 (except Dec. 6), offering $9 off adult tickets and $5 off children’s and seniors’ tickets. Thus, the discounted rates would be $12.95 for adults, $11.95 for seniors, and $6.95 for children 5-12.

The museum continues with plans for its Christmas display, “Bethlehem’s Blessings,” beginning December 12, with much of the stunning lighting already in place. The centerpiece will be a live outdoor nativity scene, featuring human actors in each of the Christmas story roles, and, of course, sheep, donkeys, and camels—all the usual animals present during the birth of the Christ child—courtesy of the museum’s own petting zoo. Museum staff and volunteers will alternate as Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, and caravan traders. A special lighted trail, “The Road to Bethlehem,” will feature a glimpse of the first Christmas in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.

Visitors to the museum grounds will also enjoy hayrides, seasonal lights and decorations, holiday food, and fun events and activities for children. Special Christmas exhibits inside the museum (tickets are required) include the Planetarium presentation, The Bethlehem Star.

The “Bethlehem’s Blessings” festivities get under way on December 12, with a chance for the media to get a preview that evening beginning at 5:45 p.m. The live nativity will run from 2:00 p.m. until close (except on December 24 and 25) and the seasonal light displays will begin at dusk each day.

The Creation Museum, located near the Cincinnati Airport, is a ministry of Answers in Genesis, a nonprofit Christian organization dedicated to confirming the validity of the Bible from the very first verse. Since its opening in May 2007, the museum has seen over 600,000 visitors, way above anticipated crowds of 250,000 for the first year. The usual museum hours are 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. Monday–Thursday; 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. on Fridays; 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. on Saturdays; and 12:00 p.m. (noon)–6:00 p.m. on Sundays. For the special hours of the “Bethlehem’s Blessings” activities, go to www.CreationMuseum.org.

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