Children march for the animals affected by East-West Link

zoo[By Sue Bolton] Protesters were more imaginative than usual with slogans for the Children’s March for the Animals to Melbourne Zoo on May 4. They were protesting against the $8 billion road project known as the East West Link because of the impact it would have on animals that live at the zoo.

Placards read: “Tollway noise — I can’t BEAR it”, “East-West Tunnel? Don’t be a GALAH!” and “The toll road is enough to make a ZEBRA cross!”. Children dressed in animal costumes or carried a stuffed toy of their favourite animal.

The protest was organised by Moreland Community against the East West Tunnel (MCAT). The state government claims the zoo is outside the project boundary of the East West Link. But the plans clearly show twin exit ramps from the tunnel a scant 40 metres from the zoo. The zoo is trying to mate pygmy hippos as part of its program to fight endangered species extinction. If the project goes ahead, it may be the zoo itself that fights extinction.

Protesters criticised the management of Melbourne Zoo for buying the government’s line that the zoo would not be affected by the East West Link. They handed a petition to Jenny Gray, CEO of Zoos Victoria, calling on the zoo to do an immediate study on threats from noise, vibration, light glare and blasting both during years of construction and day and night effects on the ability of zoo animals to cope with tens of thousands of truck and car movements around the clock.

Two internationally acclaimed studies by the World Health Organisation have determined that the night-time noise levels permitted along toll roads in Victoria threaten human health, leading to increased risks of cardiovascular disease, autism, sleep disturbance and lost productivity. It is no stretch of the imagination to conclude that this also applies to animals, many of which are much more sensitive to noise, vibration, light glare and blasting.

Oregon Zoo in the US had a road project which was 250 metres away. It shut down for four months because of fears that one pregnant elephant might miscarry. VicRoads doesn’t measure noise from midnight to 6am, when sleep is essential.

[From Green Left Weekly, May 21, 2014]