GuZoo closed

A zoo with a history of controversy may be done exhibiting many of its animals, such as tigers, lions and bears.

A zoo with a history of controversy may be done exhibiting many of its animals, such as tigers, lions and bears.

The GuZoo Animal Farm — under attack from animal rights groups and in conflict with provincial government agencies — has been ordered closed to the public until a number of deficiencies are corrected.

Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) gave the GuZoo, operated near Three Hills since 1987 by Lynn Gustafson, 30 days as of Tuesday to correct the deficiencies before it can apply for its annual zoo permit. It’s latest permit expired on Tuesday.

When the Advocate tried to reach someone at the zoo on Wednesday, a woman’s voice message stated: “Hello, the GuZoo Animal Farm is temporarily closed. We will be dispersing all of the licensed and wildlife animals.

“We had wanted to allow the public to come and say their last goodbyes to their favourites but the government will not allow the public here until all the licensed and wildlife animals are gone. Once that happens we’re hoping to reopen again.”

It’s not known how the animals will be dispersed.

Duncan MacDonnell, a public affairs officer with ESRD, said the GuZoo was issued a 30-day working permit plus a list of conditions of deficiencies that they must correct in order to remain in operation.

“Deficiencies to be addressed include conditions related to animal health care, general animal care, animal protection, public and staff safety, and annual inventory,” MacDonnell said.

He would not elaborate on the deficiencies.

“Basically we’re giving them an opportunity to comply with the province’s zoo policy and standards. This is all supported by the Alberta Zoo Advisory Committee, which reviewed the operations of the facility and the steps that had been taken to address those deficiencies.”

If they comply, they can then apply again for a zoo permit. Meanwhile, no public access is permitted during the term of the temporary permit, MacDonnell said.

On March 2, the GuZoo was inspected by staff from ESRD, Alberta Health Services and other provincial and federal agencies.

“It found that very little work had been completed on addressing deficiencies noted earlier and that several additional concerns were raised,” said MacDonnell.

“If they’ve (GuZoo) posted a message that says they’re being forced to divest the animals, I don’t know what that’s all about. How they’re interpreting it is up to them but in our minds they’ve got 30 days to meet the deficiencies,” he said.

Voices for Animals Humane Society and Zoocheck Canada have been attempting through the courts to have the zoo’s permit cancelled because they believe the GuZoo has failed to meet minimum standards.

Tove Reece, executive director for Voices for Animals in Edmonton, said the society is happy that ESRD is enforcing its regulations, but she is concerned about how the animals are being dispersed.

Some of the zoo animals probably can’t be sold, Reece said. She fears some will be destroyed. “Bears, you just can’t get any money for them, it’s really sad … there are sanctuaries that will take them,” Reece said.

Last week, the Alberta Court of Appeal filed a decision to dismiss an appeal by the GuZoo, Lynn Gustafson and three other people, regarding a judge’s order last June.

That order required GuZoo operators to allow Alberta Health Services, RCMP, ESRD, Alberta Agriculture and the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on the property, and awarded costs of $1,250 to AHS.

The GuZoo and Gustafson’s appeal of the order argued in part that AHS did not need a court order to inspect the zoo and its lands and that they had not hindered or interfered with the health authority in the exercise of its power.

“We disagree. Some of the areas which the regional health authority wished to enter and inspect, the appellants argue, are private places. So without the consent of the owners, an order is required,” the Appeal Court said.

“The appellants claim they did not hinder or interfere … yet even in their submissions to this court the appellants stated that they did refuse to consent … an inspection of the area in question.”

barr@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Protesters
Rally held outside Red Deer court for slain central Alberta man

Tyler John Campbell charged with second-degree murder for December 2019 homicide

Hog slaughter operations resumed on Thursday at Red Deer’s Olymel plant, which was closed for two weeks to curb the spread of COVID-19 among workers. Three employee deaths resulted from the latest outbreak. (Advocate file photo).
Hog slaughtering operations gear up again at Red Deer’s Olymel plant

Workers begin to return after 14-day closure due to COVID-19 outbreak

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the greater lag time between first and second doses will allow more Albertans to be effectively vaccinated sooner. (File photo)
Alberta extends time between vaccine doses means more people to get shot sooner

National Advisory Committee on Immunization says doses can be to up to four months apart

People watch the sun set in the Red Sea port city of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
OPEC cartel, allies face decision on increasing oil output

OPEC Plus made deep cuts in output in 2020 to stave off a collapse in prices

FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a vehicle rests on its side after a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods in the Rancho Palos Verdes suburb of Los Angeles. Detectives are looking at data from the so-called “black box” of Tiger Woods’ SUV to get a clearer picture of what occurred during the Southern California rollover crash last week that seriously injured the golf star, authorities said Wednesday, March 3. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Detectives look at SUV’s ‘black box’ from Tiger Woods crash

California law allows law enforcement to seek search warrants for data recorders

FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2019 file photo, Alex Kurtzman, from left, Heather Kadin, Anson Mount, Sonequa Martin-Green and Ethan Peck participate in the “Star Trek: Discovery” show panel during the CBS All Access presentation at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour at The Langham Huntington in Pasadena, Calif. Paramount+ debuts Thursday, March 4, 2021 as the latest — and last — streaming option from a major media company, this time from ViacomCBS. The company hopes its smorgasbord of offerings — live sports and news, reboots of its properties like “Frasier” and “Rugrats,” original shows like “Star Trek: Discovery” and the ViacomCBS library will entice viewers(Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
Will Paramount+ be a mountain or a molehill in streaming?

Over the last year and a half more and more streaming services have debuted

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator, says Alberta Health Services.  File photo by Advocate staff
Opinion: UCP government reneging on Red Deer hospital funding

Another year, another Alberta budget and another blow to central Albertans. Budget… Continue reading

Seattle Storm guards Sue Bird, right, and Jordin Canada pose for photos Wednesday, March 3, 2021, on the roof of the Space Needle in Seattle after they raised a flag with the team's new logo on it. Bird re-signed with the Storm earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Lille players celebrate after Jonathan David scored his side's second goal during the French League One soccer match between Lille and Marseille at the Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

Canada defender Shelina Zadorsky, right, passes the ball in front of Argentina forward Sole Jaimes (9) during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Alphonso Davies and Shelina Zadorsky have been named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Phelan M. Ebenhack
Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Most Read