THE TRAGIC death of a baby kangaroo at the Emperor Valley Zoo in the wake of the annual Independence Day fireworks display has reignited long-simmering conversations about the use of fireworks and the location of the zoo. Both matters have intersected, underlining the need for greater environmental sensitivity, a clearer urban planning framework, consultation, and compromise when it comes to safeguarding the welfare of both humans and animals.
In all of the conversations, four main positions have been taken. There are those who have called for the relocation of the fireworks, with some going so far as to suggest they should be carried out on a barge at sea. Others have called for the relocation of the zoo, citing its proximity to the city as well as the need for greater space for its animals. Some have suggested using noiseless fireworks. And others have called for an ongoing process of consultation to be completed. All agree: the use of fireworks and their impact on human and animal health is a major concern. Action is needed.
The Ministry of Planning has said while it received advice on this matter from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) two months ago, there needs to be further deliberation. According to the ministry, there has “to be extensive consultation with the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Finance and National Security, the Fire Service and the Police Service. This consultation is ongoing.”
Be that as it may, this matter deserves to be treated with greater urgency. Further, since the annual fireworks are fixed on our calendar, it is unfortunate the ministry could not have devised a temporary compromise in light of that tight timeline and its own knowledge of the EMA’s concerns.
But it is not just a matter of fireworks alone. Noise levels generally continue to be of concern, as shown by the recent claims that noise levels from an adjoining private residence had disturbed the zoo.
“We are becoming a very noisy society,” says managing director of the EMA Hayden Romano. We are now nocturnal animals and there is a bigger matter of noise pollution. This has led to discussion about the zoo’s location.
“There were studies done about relocating the zoo, but it is a city zoo and the results indicated that it should stay here,” says Gupte Lutchmedial, president of the Zoological Society of TT. Indeed, many large cities all over the world have zoos, which perform educational functions. It is impractical to relocate the zoo on a short-term basis, but there should be consultation on a new location, notwithstanding previous studies.
Meanwhile, a simple, informal undertaking that only noiseless fireworks will be used on Independence Day might have saved one kangaroo’s life. In this regard, it is a shame such a simple undertaking, which could be achieved with just one meeting, seems impossible to deliver.