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Noah's Ark Replica Could Make A Splash At 2012 Olympics

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When Noah built his famous ark, he had two of everything -- except arks, of course.

That may be changing thanks to Dutch creationist Johan Huibers who has spent three years and $1.6 million of his own money building a modern-day replica of the Biblical ark.

Huibers was swept away by the idea 20 years ago after dreaming about a great flood sweeping Holland. He decided it was a signal to spread God's message, according to the Telegraph.

According to Biblical legend, the original ark was built to protect Noah's family and two of every kind of animal during a flood that lasted 40 days and 40 nights.

Huibers' vessel is reportedly the same size as the original ark. That works out to be about 450 feet long and 75 feet wide.

This is actually Huibers' second ark. In 2007, he finished a half-scale version before setting his sights on the bigger version.

There are some concessions to modernity. For instance, the ark uses Swedish pine instead of the "gopher wood" mentioned in the Bible. Huibers says that's okay since, in the Bible, God told Noah to use a "resin wood." The ark is also built around a steel frame.

Another concession to reality, or at least animal rights activists: This Ark will be stuffed mostly with fake mammals. However, Huibers has also built an aviary on the deck house that will hold free-flying live birds.

Huibers is hoping to make a big splash with his ark next year by having it moored in London during the 2012 Summer Olympics. He has sent a letter to the city's mayor, Boris Johnson, asking permission to dock there. He says he hopes the gigantic modern-day relic inspires children.

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Whether Huibers' ark is part of God's plan or not remains to be seen, but it seems like Noah's Ark is due for a flood of media attention.

Later this summer, former "Baywatch" beauty Donna D'Errico is planning to fulfill a lifelong dream of climbing Mount Ararat in Turkey to search for the frozen remains of Noah's ark.

"This has been a dream of mine since I was 9 or 10," D'Errico told AOL Weird News. "I went to Catholic school and was fascinated by Noah's ark. I would do class projects based on the ark."

D'Errico's fascination with the Biblical tale wasn't just a childhood passion. As she grew older, she continued to study and research the ark, especially stories suggesting that it was close to being found.

"I'd read different stories about how people thought they found the [animal] cages and I was completely intrigued," she said. "I decided that someday I'd go to Turkey, climb Mount Ararat and search for Noah's ark."

According to legend, the ark is located on Mount Ararat, a snow-capped, dormant volcanic cone in the easternmost part of Turkey that has two peaks: Greater Ararat, with an elevation of 16,854 feet, and Lesser Ararat, which is 12,782 feet above sea level.

However, despite numerous sightings and expeditions, no solid proof of the ark has ever been found.

D'Errico would like to be the person who makes the historical find.

"I've been studying this for years and know where the sightings have been," she said. "According to my research, the ark lays broken into at least two, but most likely three, pieces. I believe that one of those pieces is in the uppermost Ahora Gorge area, an extremely dangerous area to climb and explore."

But research alone isn't enough. D'Errico is training to get her stamina up in order to handle a climb nearly three miles high.

"It's not a technical climb," she said. "Many inexperienced climbers have done it, but you do need stamina and, obviously, a crew."

She is looking to make August the month she starts her ascent, and she is swimming and running to build up her endurance. Her preparation is being filmed for a Discovery Channel series tentatively titled "reModel."

D'Errico also hopes to visit Huibers in person and see his ark up close and to personally thank him for not being afraid to demonstrate his faith.

"So many people have let God and the Bible fall to the wayside in their lives," she said. "Some have never even had God or the Bible as a part of their lives at all, and see things like what Mr. Huibers is doing or what I am doing to be a silly waste of time and resources.

"Even speaking about anything religious these days is frowned upon or ridiculed. After all, you might 'offend' someone. I applaud Mr. Huibers for putting himself in the line of fire to try and inspire others. Good for him."

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