Zoo calls for complete ban on noise-making fireworks

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: Zookeeper Christian Blake-Prescott feeds a timid capuchin monkey at the Emperor Valley Zoo, Port of Spain, on December 28, 2021. – Ayanna Kinsale

The Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ZSTT) said while steps were taking place to address the use of fireworks, stronger measures and complete ban on noise-making fireworks should be implemented.

In a media release on Monday, its president Gupte Lutchmedial said the ZSTT has been consistent in the view that fireworks should be banned as they were dangerous and can be lethal to animals and vulnerable people in society.

“The ZSTT is recommending stronger measures than what is proposed and once again calls for a complete ban on these noise-making fireworks. In this regard, the ZSTT is supportive of the public view expressed by Minister Stuart Young, supported by many organisations and citizens that we should not have fireworks sold to members of the public.”

On New Year’s Day, fireworks were cited as the cause of a fire on Quarry Street, Port of Spain, which left about 23 people without homes, clothes, and other essentials.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi subsequently said the ministry was looking at legislative reform regarding fireworks and was seeking feedback on the proposals by January 26. The proposed law sought to limit the discharge of fireworks to public holidays and Old Year’s Night and would otherwise require a police permit to do so.

It detailed the procedures to obtain a permit, the entities — Fire Service, Civil Aviation Authority, Environmental Management Authority, and the local municipal corporation – the use of the fireworks, age limit of a person using the fireworks, and the date and time of usage.

In Monday’s release, Lutchmedial said, “The 2019 incident of the death of our kangaroo, ‘Joey,’ as a result of trauma he experienced from explosive noises set off by the Independence Day fireworks display at the Queen’s Park Savannah is well known to the public. While this reignited the debate on fireworks and there was much support for our call to ban fireworks, this eventually lost steam.”

He said the zoo has had to invest in measures to mitigate the extreme distress to the animals owing to the fireworks displays at the Queen’s Park Savannah and environs, and while there has been support from the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries with the animal production and health legislation, more was needed to save the animals.

He said legislation “could not address the fireworks issue directly and it is therefore heartening to see draft legislation to regulate and manage fireworks out for public comment.”

Lutchmedial pointed out that the fireworks debate was not isolated to TT and suggested the use of drones and noiseless fireworks.