Although much of the information at the zoo is of benefit—their presupposition can lead visitors to believe in a common ancestor.
I have a soft spot for Twycross Zoo. It is a favourite with my children and me, since it is only a 30-minute drive from our house in the west of Leicestershire. The animals seem to be well-looked after, and the atmosphere is friendly and helpful. Three quarters of the animals in the zoo are endangered species, and so the zoo runs a well-established captive breeding programme.
The zoo contains Britain’s largest collection of primates. These are housed in clean, warm enclosures, with easy access to extensive outdoor apparatus, on which they can climb and swing. This is clearly beneficial to the animals, as well as highly entertaining to visitors.
The Twycross chimpanzees were famous throughout the 1970s and 1980s when they became the stars of a familiar set of TV adverts for a well-known brand of tea. The actions and mouth movements of the chimps were over-dubbed with human voices. My own favourite edition of those adverts was a simian recreation of the classic Laurel and Hardy film The Piano. This series of ads came to an end with the prevailing view being that it is inappropriate to dress chimps up in human clothes.
Twycross Zoo’s latest publicity leaflet is headed “Catch up with the family.”
Inside the brochure a couple of sentences under the headline “Meet the family” read ...
“Chimpanzees and Baboons (like our friend on the cover) are human’s closest living relatives, in fact, they share 98% of our DNA.”
Paradoxically, this form of simian political correctness has led to a more extraordinary and less amusing form of anthropomorphism in the zoo. (Anthropomorphism is attributing human behaviours to nonhuman things.) The zoo’s latest publicity leaflet is headed “Come and meet the family”! It is perhaps a trivial point to make, but none of the enclosures show any evidence for evolution. The only evolution found is on the notices around the enclosures. Here, the public is reminded that chimpanzees share 98% of our genes.
Our website has published many articles giving a rational explanation to such statistics, which are used as a presuppositional smokescreen.1 They are used to mislead zoo visitors into supposing that it is scientific evidence for evolution, when an alternative presupposition (ours) would lead visitors to suppose that chimps and humans share a common designer, not a common ancestor.
Much of the information given in the zoo is of benefit—referring to populations left in the wild, diet, conservation, and behaviour. The visitor just needs to observe the animals with a mind open in praise to our Creator, who has made everything well. When I first visited the zoo, it had been raining, and the giraffe enclosure contained puddles. If you are fortunate to see the same conditions, just marvel as you watch the giraffe stoop to drink water, wondering how it could have evolved the valves that stop the blood from rushing to its head and prevent it from getting giddy as it raises its head to full height again. Forget the evolutionary just-so stories and remember your Creator.
Despite the evolutionary propaganda, the zoo is worth a visit. But, if you take your children, make sure you can talk knowledgeably about the exhibits, being prepared to give that answer for the “hope that is in you.” With the shortage of good creationist zoos,2 stock up on good books for you and your children from our catalogue and then take them to see the live animals at Twycross.
Sometimes the similarities between human and chimp DNA are used to demonstrate a common ancestor. Is this really evidence for a common ancestor or a common designer?
In another article, we answer the question “If human and chimp DNA are so similar, why are there so many physical and mental differences between them?”
Paul Taylor graduated with his B.Sc. in chemistry from Nottingham University and his masters in science education from Cardiff University. Paul taught science for 17 years in a state school but is now a proficient writer and speaker for Answers in Genesis–UK.
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