An Alberta man facing a deadline to close his private zoo has decided to call his property a place of worship in hopes that the designation will help him keep his animals.
Guzoo Animal Farm owner Lynn Gustafson has started calling his property near Three Hills "a parsonage," and has declared his hundreds of exotic and domestic animals as having found sanctuary.
The designation means, according to Gustafson, that his animals are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"We are kind of looking after God's creatures so I guess we are kind of the same as we have always been — a sanctuary," he said.
Gustafson has 400 animals including tigers, a New Guinea singing dog, lynx and a baboon.
The move doesn't impress Zoocheck Canada's Julie Woodyer, who said Gustafson is trying to stall the removal of his exotic animals.
"He, of course, can be a church if he wants to be a church. But it does not preclude him from following the laws of the province or the country."
Alberta Sustainable Resources has given Gustafson a two-day extension to the week deadline he had to shut down the zoo before provincial officials formally decommission it.
Earlier this month, provincial officials declared Guzoo deficient "in all categories of zoo operations."
In March, Gustafson said he would have no choice but to put down all of the exotic animals if his zoo's operating licence was revoked.