St. Maarten Zoo joins protests against drag racing strip

POSTED: 10/10/12 12:09 PM

GREAT BAY – The St. Maarten Zoo , following the path of other concerned foundations, submitted its formal objections to the Council of Ministers to the filling in of the Great Salt Pond for a drag racing strip to be located near the zoo.

In its letter, the Board of the St. Maarten Zoo states that it shares the concerns that other NGO’s and interest groups have cited regarding the environmental impact of the drag racing strip.

The Zoo also stated that it has during the past 20 years created an oasis of peace and rest in the area adjacent to the Great Salt Pond.

“The possibility of excessive noise levels from the proposed drag racing strip is a real concern for the Zoo. This will definitely disturb our visitors and may influence the animal population to the extent that it will cause behavioral changes. It is a well known fact that excessive noise can startle and alarm animals, causing a negative impact. Therefore the Zoo is concerned that their ongoing breeding program of the endangered cotton top tamarin may be jeopardized,” the board stated in a press release.

It is clear that no studies have been done regarding these potential sound levels, but it is well known that drag racing is a loud sport, the board said. “ESPN magazine states in an article that drag racing is the loudest sport on the planet.”

The Zoo’s board also expressed its concerns about “the danger of air pollutants caused by high-power engines that may jeopardize the health of the animals and more importantly even, the health of the most vulnerable in our society, our child-visitors.”

The Zoo further mentions that the Great Salt Pond is home to large colonies of local and migratory bird life. “These birds depend on quiet surroundings for their breeding. Thus St. Maarten is at risk of losing an important natural asset; its bird colonies, that will turn elsewhere for feeding and breeding. Many of those birds such as the green heron, night heron and the egrets also live and relax at the Zoo. We therefore strongly object against these plans and plead with you to find alternate locations for these projects.”


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