HONG KONG -- One of the most famous Bible stories is Noah's Ark. Now people can visit a life-size replica of the ark in one of the world's most famous cities, Hong Kong.
The ark rises next to a huge suspension bridge and one of the world's busiest waterways. Its story begins with a unique partnership including a government, a developer and Christian organizations working together.
In the late 90s, Hong Kong needed a bridge to connect the city with its new airport. Matthew Pine is manager of "Noah's Ark" theme park.
"As part of the whole development scheme, there was an island that needed to be developed to enable the building of the bridge," he recalled.
As a lawyer for the developers, Hugo Chan had a message for the government.
"We can help you with the bridge if you negotiate with the owners of the land on the island, build a theme park for the community, let us relocate the villages and build a residential development," he told them.
So the government built the bridge, apartments and a theme park.
"They had vision to do something remarkable, something outstanding. So they came up with many ideas. Some of them were really outrageous and some of them were very unreasonable," Pine said.
Developers say the vision of the ark came from an 8-year-old girl.
"She drew a little picture, her dad took it. The government officials loved it and from there on the architects and the engineers developed the plan," Pine explained. "The marketing teams came alongside. And the Hong Kong government came to support it as well. And they eventually created what you see today."
The contractors built the ark the way the Bible describes -- 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high. Many believe it was the largest wooden structure ever to roam the seas.
Outside of the ark, a garden features nearly 70 pairs of life-size replicas of animals and a few ones. Inside, the ark contains exhibits with rare animals like a nautilus, a toucan and exotic fish.
Screens show animated films that demonstrate how the original ark could have been constructed and how it might have been ventilated. The exhibits also teach that the story of a major flood is nearly universal throughout the world's ancient cultures.
The designers of the ark tell Noah's story at the time he opens the ark after the flood.
"The reason we chose that moment in the story is because this is the message we want to bring to Hong Kong. to China the world today," Pine said.
"In our lives we always face floods, we will face trials, we will face difficulties," he explained. "If we can find a vessel to pass through those storms, those floods in our lives that may even threaten our very lives, that we can pass through, have a new beginning, have a new hope, as it was in Noah's day."
*Originally aired on July 15, 2011.