06-01-2011, 11:27 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Southern Alberta
Guzoo Animal Farm Shut Down
GuZoo Animal Farm will be forced to close
CALGARY — The family that owns the GuZoo Animal Farm says it has been devastated by a provincial order to close the attraction.
The Three Hills menagerie had come under fire in April when photos purportedly showing animals living in unclean conditions were posted on the Internet, just as the zoo was seeking to renew its licence with Alberta Fish and Wildlife.
On Wednesday, the government announced it would not allow the rural zoo’s owner, Lynn Gustafson, to continue his operation. Instead, it granted the zoo a seven-day permit, allowing it enough time to create a plan for decommissioning the attraction.
“Call them and ask them what the status of the GuZoo Three Hills is under the new Communist Alberta. Thank you,” Gustafson said in a phone interview before hanging up.
Nic Burgess, who posted photos of the zoo to Facebook in the hopes it would be investigated, said he was happy to hear the news.
“That’s fantastic,” he said. “It’s been years and years and years of people complaining about the situation, and animals living in these deplorable conditions. Anything that goes on for that long in that state doesn’t need to be there. It’s not doing enough good.”
Burgess heard about the farm on Facebook and, arming himself with a camera, decided to see the situation for himself in early spring.
“There were really bad cages that were falling apart. I seen things like frozen water dishes,” he said. “There were barbecue grills over holes in chain-link fencing for animals like bobcats. There was garbage in the pens. There was a baby goat with a horn that was bleeding that looked like it was falling off. It was just not good conditions.”
Burgess’s main concerns centred around garbage in the cages and the animals living awkwardly among each other.
The government’s decision was praised by the Alberta Liberals, who issued a statement saying the closure was a long time coming.
But Lynn Gustafson’s son, Bill Gustafson, said the order is heavy-handed and offered no opportunity to appeal. He also fears the animals will have to be euthanized if no alternative homes can be found.
“Apparently what we’ve done here is worse than murder,” he said. “They’ve just condemned every zoo in Alberta.”
It’s not just the exotic animals like tigers that will be taken away, Bill Gustafson added. The order will also clear the family of its livestock and dogs, he said.
“They’re not going to give us any compensation for them. They’ll help us get rid of them, but they won’t give us any compensation,” he said. “They’ve just destroyed a family’s life is what they’ve done.”
Dave Ealey, spokesman for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, said there was no deadline for closing the zoo.
“Right now, all I’m aware of is that we’ve started discussions with them, we’re trying to have a plan developed to decommission the zoo in an orderly fashion,” he said.
In April, the government commissioned a report with the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums and found the zoo did not meet standards. The major concern involved the intermingling of animals, which they said might create a biohazard.
“The results were very low ratings for the various elements in the different parts of the zoo’s operation,” he said. “They said this is not meeting standards.”
The GuZoo has been the subject of controversy over the care of its animals since the early 2000s.
The zoo has been licensed since 1990 and claims to be one of the largest private zoos in the country.
Bill Gustafson said the zoo is home to more than 500 animals. He also said the independent report found that it scored only a few points lower than would have been required to pass the inspection. He said the family should have been given a list of recommendations and more time to make upgrades and repairs.
“The Alberta veterinarian says there is no option for the animals. They’re leaving you with no option but to euthanize them all because they’re not going to be anyplace that will take them, according to what they’re telling us,” he said.
“We thought there must be an appeal we can take this to, but no, no nothing.”
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