The zoo which was earmarked in 2007 by the then PNM administration, would occupy 40 acres of Sou Sou lands in Chickland.
However, a date has not been set for the project to begin nor has any money been allocated, Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz said yesterday on a tour of the proposed reserve site. Accompanying the minister was Caroni MP and Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, and minister in the ministry Vernella Alleyne-Toppin.
Alongside the team were officials of the Zoological Society of TT (ZSTT), as well as officials of the Couva/ Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation.
Speaking to reporters, Ramadharsingh said the Emperor Valley Zoo has severe limitations in terms of space and a natural environment. But the proposed zoo will allow for animals to be in their natural environment, said Ramadharsingh, a veterinarian by profession. He noted that persons have to travel to countries such as Africa , India and Australia to see exotic animals or learn about them on televison programmes.
“They are very loving creatures that can teach us a lot about nature,” the minister explained. He said people are excited when they journey to Miami to see dolphins.
Ramadharsingh said the zoo will be a boost for the country’s tourism.
“We will make Trinidad a unique destination for local tourists as well as regional and international tourists. When you look at the site you will see the natural beauty of central Trinidad and we want to capture this,” he said.
Ramadharsingh said the zoo will also stimulate economic activity in Central, which has been adversely affected since the closure of the sugar estates of Caroni Ltd.
“You do not have anything to drive the economy in these areas. You don’t have an ocean front or a port. You don’t have an airport nearby, you don’t have centres of economic activity that can drive employment and the local economy,” Ramadharsingh said.
In 2007, under the PNM, plans to build the zoo had been discussed by then tourism minister Howard Chin Lee.
Cadiz said as a tourism initiative the project will work extremely well.
“We all know the Emperor Valley Zoo is limited in size. And zoos all over the world are becoming more like nature centres. Now animals are free to roam in certain areas rather than being in cages and that would be brand new for Trinidad and Tobago and brand new for the region,” Cadiz said.
Plans have been discussed to set up institute to study local animals and to include animal care as part of the “rehabilitation” of persons. Hire Home Cleaning Services in Chicago!
“Animals have an effect on people. The issue of rehabilitation of certain people who might have found it difficult when growing up, if they work with animals they have a way of rehabilitating themselves, so there are all kinds of different sectors that would benefit from a project like this,” Cadiz said. A draft of the plan was discussed among the ministers and officials at the site.