AiG email to Tourism Cabinet reveals delay in Ark Park groundbreaking, slow fundraising

As we mentioned a month ago, there’s quite a bit of speculation about why Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis haven’t even begun the groundbreaking for their giant boat with dinosaurs on it (otherwise know as Ark Encounter) in Grant County. Even though they have successfully lobbied their way into tax incentives from the Beshear administration and Grant County officials, they appear to have hit a snag of late.

Their groundbreaking was pushed back from spring, to summer, to fall, and the most recent media report was to next spring. Meanwhile, their fundraising goal of $24.5 million appears to have ground to a halt at just over $4 million, where it has been for quite a while. They had reached the $3 million mark all the way back in May.

LEO Weekly contacted our good friend at Answers in Genesis, Senior Vice President Mike Zovath, for a status update on groundbreaking and fundraising for Ark Encounter, but he sadly did not return our calls.

LEO Weekly also contacted the Tourism Cabinet to see if they’ve heard any update from Answers in Genesis or Ark Encounter LLC on when they would be breaking ground and how their fundraising is going.

“We don’t know anything about groundbreakings or fundraising from them,” said Tourism Cabinet spokesman Gil Lawson. “We’ve not heard anything from them.”

However, emails between Answers in Genesis and the Tourism Cabinet obtained by LEO Weekly through an open records request reveal a different story.

On Oct. 27, Todd Cassidy, the executive director of the tourism department’s office of financial incentives, sent an email to Zovath with AiG asking for the status of Ark Encounter.

“It has been a while since we last spoke,” wrote Cassidy. “May I ask the status of the fund raising and any proposed ground breaking?”

Zovath’s reply the next day revealed not only problems delaying their groundbreaking, but also difficulties raising enough funds to build the giant dinosaur boat in question.

“Todd, we actually considered an official ground breaking earlier this month but too many complexities got in the way so we ended up putting it on hold until everything is worked out,” wrote Zovath. “Funding is progressing, a little slower due to the very slow economy.”

Zovath went on to list further issues concerning permits and buying property, saying that it might take an additional three to four months before they can start construction. Despite the difficulties raising money, Zovath very optimistically thought that Ark Encounter would eventually be open to guests earlier than their planned spring 2014 opening.

“We plan to close on the Finke property when our option expires in Feb. Brown bats and environmental permits are the next targets. We need to secure our Bat MOA and get our trees down as soon as we close on the last property and before the end of March. It looks like we won’t be able to get a waiver from KDOW so we’re looking at an additional 3-4 months added to our permit schedule before we can begin the construction phase. We are considering a few options to help speed up the construction and possibly open to guests earlier than our original schedule. Once we have more information developed I’ll update you – probably by the first of the year ….. Z.”

However, at their current fundraising pace, groundbreaking and construction would probably occur by maybe… 2024?

It’s funny, but some have suggested for quite some time that this giant dinosaur boat will never get built, and those millions of dollars in donations given to Answers in Genesis will never be refunded (there is no disclaimer on their site).

But people are just so cynical these days. Trust in Ham.


  1. e-lad
    Posted December 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    There may be an even more compelling reason that the donations slowed down.
    It has become common knowledge among the faithful that the park is now going to be a for-profit venture, so why would they donate money so that Ham and his cronies can profit from it?

  2. satan augustine
    Posted December 21, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Is the Creation Museum not a for-profit endeavor? I’m sure all of the shit they sell in their gift shop results in a hefty profit for Ham given that the majority of it consists of books he’s written or co-written.

  3. e-lad
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 3:49 am | Permalink


    The Creation Museum is a 503(c) non-profit organization.

  4. foo
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Come on, people. Time to pony up so Ken can build Disneyland For Dummies.

  5. Xenu Lord of Darkness
    Posted December 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    The “museum” is non profit, but the Ark Park is a for profit venture. One may think they did it this way to get the government tax incentives. Looks like most of the same people are involved with both except for the park’s mysterious and as yet unnamed investors.

  6. Ben Fenton
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Anyone dumb enough to get ripped off by Ham & co. deserves it. This project has already failed, and they’ll just walk away with millions in donations. Say it with me: char-la-tan.

  7. M Richards
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I think some fundraising opportunities go INTENTIONALLY missing.

    I doubt Ham and his ilk might not want to be know for taking donations from ‘Jews’ or ‘Muslims’ because they probably consider themselves good Christians.

    And there’s the rub. The first book of “The Bible” also happens to be the first book of “The Hebrew Bible” which to Christians and even Muslims is “The Old Testament.

    Noah is featured in beliefs of ALL three of these major religions so it would seem there would be an enormous amount of opportunities if the two other religions are tapped.

    But NOOOOOOO. Ham and his crew may fail in flames rather than take money to other believers just because they are Muslims or Jewish.

    Wasn’t there a fellow, after Noah, who is pretty popular with Christians, Jews and worshipers of Islam? Why, yes there is. Or has Ham and his congregation forgotten about Abraham?

  8. articulett
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Gee willikers– one wonders how Noah manage to build his ark without any investors at all!

  9. journeyer58
    Posted December 23, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    elad, could the Internal Revenue Code designation be 501 (c) 3?
    The idea of a museum dedicated to something that in actuality doesn’t exist is quite intriguing.
    Ken Ham, is nothing if not a charlatan and a deceptive individual because nothing he will say about “creation science” can be attributed to scientific research and its accuracy is in major question.
    Please before anyone else gives money to this organization remember that more than likely it will never get off the ground.
    In times like this, I always seem to harken back to Jim and Tammy Faye Baker. They too, were charlatans.

  10. Preacher Griz Hipple
    Posted December 25, 2011 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    They just need to pray to Jesus a little bit harder, and Jesus will then provide them the $21.4 million more they need. This is not rocket science.

    -Rev Paul T Hipple
    Award Winning Interblogger
    (multiple categories, multiple years)

  11. Armando
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Tell us, Ham, where in the bible you see noah getting funding to get the equivalent of 24.5 million dollars to build his ark? Wll you put your work to the test of flotability? How many species of dinosaurs will your ark include?

  12. Gerry
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Ken Ham is living proof that Australians hump sheep!

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8 Trackbacks

  1. [...] that the infamous Answers in Genesis has hit a snag in their plans for an “ark park.” They aimed to raise $24.5 million for the project, and have stalled at around $4 million.Why does one need even 4 million dollars to demonstrate the literal truthfulness of an ancient [...]

  2. [...] Hey guys, remember that time when Kentucky approved $43 million in tax incentives and $11 million worth of road construction upgrades to fund Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis Noah’s Ark Theme park (nick-named: Dinosaurs on a Boat or Disney for Dummies)? Me Neither!, but anyway, it seems that Ham is having a problem raising funds. But not to worry – there is nothing stopping Ham from keeping the $4M he already has raised if the project is cancelled.(LEO Weekly) [...]

  3. [...] Ark, called Ark Encounter, is faithfully recreating the failure of the original ark to persuade. Fundraising for Ark theme park has stalled, and it now seems that the project may never begin at [...]

  4. [...] join hands and make a play for the “Ark Encounter” creationist theme park. The LEO Weekly in Kentucky reports that developers are having trouble raising the $24.5 million needed to complete their project. So [...]

  5. By Will Ark Encounter Sink? | ScienceDenial on December 25, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    [...] to LEO Weekly (12/21/2011), AiG had raised $3 million back in May of 2011, but now lingers at $4 million, far short of the [...]

  6. [...] According to LEO Weekly of Louisville, Ky., Answers in Genesis’ ground-breaking was creatively scheduled for op… [...]

  7. By Ark Encounter is spiking! – FatLip on January 16, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    [...] As LEO Weekly first reported last month, emails from our Flintstone Truther friends at Answers in Genesis to the Kentucky Tourism Cabinet reveal that they are having serious fundraising difficulties for their Giant Dinosaur Boat, also known as Ark Encounter. Which of course might explain why their official groundbreaking has now been pushed back by at least an entire year. [...]

  8. By Ark Encounter a big con? – FatLip on July 6, 2012 at 8:42 am

    [...] we began suspecting last year — due to horrid fundraising, groundbreakings pushed back over and over again, and the lack of [...]