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A New Guinea singing dog, in an enclosure with a frozen water dish at Guzoo Animal Farm near Three Hills, Alta., was shivering from the cold, said the photographer. (Courtesy Nic Burgess)

A controversial private zoo northeast of Calgary, Guzoo Animal Farm, has been ordered to close its doors after investigators found a long list of deficiencies at the business. 

The zoo, which is near Three Hills, Alta., had been the target of an online campaign to have it closed over what its critics said were unsuitable living conditions for the 400 animals, which include tigers, mountain lions, lynx and a baboon.

On Wednesday the province announced it had issued a seven-day limited permit, during which time the zoo's owner, Lynn Gustafson, will be required to decommission his business, officials said.

The zoo is no longer allowed to receive visitors, they added.

Photos posted on Facebook in March purported to show several animals at Guzoo living in squalid conditions.

The province renewed the zoo's licence on April 1, but only for 60 days while officials continued to probe animal welfare concerns at the facility.

An inspection team from the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), working with provincial officials, found numerous ongoing deficiencies in all categories of zoo operations, officials said Wednesday.

"We have not taken this step lightly," said Alberta Minister of Sustainable Resource Development Mel Knight. "We worked closely with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development to identify the decommissioning as the responsible action."

The animals will be dispersed in a way that is sensitive to the needs of the animals as well as the owner's business, officials added.

Gustafson said earlier this year that if his licence were denied, he would have no choice but to put down all of the exotic animals.

In 2007, Zoocheck Canada documented over 100 violations of provincial standards for zoos at Guzoo Animal Farm.