EDMONTON — A private zoo in central Alberta has been ordered to shut down.
The Alberta government says an independent, third-party review of GuZoo found deficiencies in all categories of its operations.
The province says ongoing deficiencies, a history of issues and the review prompted it to issue the zoo a seven-day permit to shut down.
Pictures of animals at the facility — including a goat with its face covered in blood — were posted on a Facebook page at the end of March, prompting an outcry and several complaints to the Alberta SPCA and the province.
Zoo owner Lynn Gustafson, who has operated the animal farm for 20 years near Three Hills, has said he received death threats after the photos were posted.
He said he was blindsided by the decision.
“I say welcome to Communist Alberta. They could just come and take your place over, it seems. What it boils down to is I’ve been a pain in the butt for them for so long because people complained and they don’t take consideration of the thousands of people who do enjoy it,” Gustafson said.
It’s not known what will happen to the animals at GuZoo, but the Alberta government says it will work with Gustafson to remove the animals.
Alberta Liberal Laurie Blakeman says that the government’s decision to decommission the private zoo has been a long time coming.
“Albertans have been horrified by the treatment of animals at the GuZoo for years,” Blakeman says. “I’ve been calling for the shutdown of this dreadful place since 2003. Why does it always take so long for the government to do the right thing?”
Blakeman notes that despite many years of complaints and concerns from citizens regarding treatment of animals at GuZoo, the Alberta government continued to renew its licence.
“It makes you wonder why they’re finally pulling the plug on this wretched place now,” Blakeman says. “But they’ve finally done the right thing, and we can all be thankful. The next step is to ensure that all of the animals are transferred to safe, healthy homes . . . ”