The Alberta government’s Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) has joined Alberta SPCA for a “comprehensive review” of tourist attraction Guzoo in Three Hills, Alta.
This comes in the wake of social media users demanding the roadside zoo, home to exotic animals such as tigers, camels and lions to raccoons, emus and a macaque, be shut down.
“Alberta is committed to ensuring zoo standards provide consistent, basic levels of protection and care for zoo animals and a safe, enjoyable and educational experience for visitors,” read an Alberta government Twitter post yesterday afternoon.
An Edmonton veterinarian who visited Guzoo March 12 called conditions “disgusting.”
“They can’t even provide the basics for these animals,” said Dr. Debi Zimmermann, who went to the property on behalf of watchdog Zoocheck. “Most of the animals did not have anything to sustain them for a week, let alone a lifetime.”
But Guzoo owner Lynn Gustafson said critics’ timing “is not coincidental” with his permit up for renewal April 1.
Inadequate shelter, animals from the tropics in snow-filled cages, a lack of food and water, rotting carcasses being fed to other animals, and feces-caked water bowls and floors were among conditions Zimmermann said she observed at Guzoo.
She reported a staff member feeding the animals “restaurant food,” consisting of pineapple tops, cucumbers, hamburgers still in plastic and a bag of buns.
But Gustafson said the vet must not have looked closely enough for fresh water, and that the animals’ diet consists of hay, grain, meat and some vegetables.
“They may not have had water at that moment,” said Gustafson, admitting some animals’ “old water dishes” have sat covered in feces in cages since last fall.
SRD spokesman Dave Ealey said the investigation will take a few days to determine if changes need to be made at Guzoo. Charges or special permit requirements may result.