Provincial officials are promising to conduct a thorough review of a private zoo northeast of Calgary after evidence surfaced that animals are being mistreated there.


A New Guinea singing dog, in an enclosure with a frozen water dish, was shivering from the cold, said the photographer. (Courtesy Nic Burgess)

Photos taken last week by a visitor to the Guzoo Animal Farm near Three Hills, Alta., were posted on Facebook. The pictures purport to show several animals living in dirty, unsuitable pens. Some of the animals appear to be in distress.

Several groups on Facebook and other websites are calling on the province to close the facility, which is up for an operating licence review on April 1.

But the complaints are unfounded and nothing owner Lynn Gustafson hasn't heard before, he said.

"These kinds of people don't realize, by trying to stop what I'm doing, all they are doing is depriving some … child or adult … of enjoying themselves," he said.

Dave Ealey, who speaks for Alberta Sustainable Resources, said the province will do a full review of the zoo before its licence is renewed.

"We'll look at whether the animal care standards are being addressed at the time of the inspection," he said.


Lynn Gustafson, owner of Guzoo Animal Farm, with Raj the tiger. (John Spittal/CBC)

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

The animal protection charity said its inspectors found rancid water in the tiger cage, piles of animal waste in many enclosures, and "grossly undersized" enclosures that fail to offer animals a full range of their natural movements.

"Despite years of complaints about grossly substandard conditions Guzoo … has repeatedly been given its permit to operate by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development," reads a posting on Zoocheck's website.