No Noah, But Ark Opens in Netherlands

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Curious pilgrims were drawn to the Dutch town of Schagen on Saturday where they were able to visit a massive replica of the biblical Noah's Ark built by devout Christian Johan Huibers.

Life-size models of giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles, zebras, bison and other animals greeted visitors inside the ark.

Huibers' fully functional ark is two-thirds the length of a football field and as high as a three-storey house.

But the original ark featured in the Bible was described as five times larger than Johan's Ark.

Huibers said his venture came after he dreamt of the Netherlands being flooded.

"In February 1992, I had a dream that Holland will become flooded. The next day, I found a book about Noah's Ark in the local bookshop, and since then, my dream has been to build the ark," he said.

A contractor by trade, Huibers built the ark of cedar and pine.

The type of wood used in the construction of the original ark is still a subject of debate among Biblical scholars.

Huibers did most of the work with his own hands, using modern tools.

Construction began in May 2005.

One American visitor said the ark had a great relevance today with all the controversy surrounding global warming.

"Just a few weeks ago we saw Al Gore on television in Holland saying that all Holland will be flooded and so this fits right in. I don't think the man who made this ever expected that global warning would become an issue and that suddenly having an ark would be meaningful in the middle of the Netherlands."

Huibers said he hoped the project would renew interest in Christianity in the Netherlands, where churchgoing has fallen dramatically in the past 50 years.

"I would really like to inspire people to search for God and to begin to read the Bible," he said.

He also plans to take the ark to major cities in Belgium and Germany.

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