Talks proceed for GuZoo animals

Provincial officials hope to continue negotiating with owner Lynn Gustafson for the release of animals from the GuZoo.

Lynn Gustafson holds Merlin the macaw at the GuZoo north of Three Hills.

Lynn Gustafson holds Merlin the macaw at the GuZoo north of Three Hills.

Provincial officials hope to continue negotiating with owner Lynn Gustafson for the release of animals from the GuZoo.

Dave Ealey, issues manager for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, said on Monday that his department and Alberta Agriculture have asked for health checks of all the animals on the farm before they can be moved to other facilities.

The GuZoo is closed to the public with the animals being held at the farm on a temporary permit to allow Gustafson enough time to meet the conditions of decommissioning, ordered by the province on June 1 over concerns about poor record keeping and safety of visitors and staff.

While people purchasing farm animals are normally responsible for the health status of the animals they buy, it’s a different situation at the GuZoo, located on Hwy 21 between Trochu and Three Hills, said Ealey.

Agriculture officials are concerned about the potential for the spread of disease because so many animals of so many different species and categories are in contact with each other on Gustafson’s farm.

The province wants to ensure that any zoos or farms receiving the animals are protected, he said.

Additionally, as identified in the review performed earlier this year by members of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, there are no records to show what treatment any of the animals would have received in 20 years since the GuZoo first opened, said Ealey.

The cost of a health inspection and who would bear that cost is included in the solution provincial officials seek to negotiate with Gustafson, he said.

Gustafson confirmed on Monday that he has hired a lawyer, but declined identifying her. He said they have not yet discussed a strategy.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com