Published online at GlobalTVEdmonton.com on March 31, 2011.
Linda Hoang, Global News: Thursday, March 31, 2011
Protestors rally against GuZoo Animal Farm
Edmontonians took to the Legislature steps Thursday at a rally protesting the GuZoo Animal Farm.
The privately-owned GuZoo Animal Farm near Three Hills, Alta., came under fire in a mass social media campaign earlier this week after an Edmonton man took photos of the facility then posted them on Facebook.
But the criticism towards the farm is not new.
Lauren Johnston has been pushing for the closure of GuZoo for years, and hopes the recent attention will help bring down the farm.
“We believe that they are in non-compliance with the Government of Alberta standards’ for zoos in Alberta,” said Johnston, who is a member of the Concerned Albertans for Animal Welfare and Public Safety (CAAWPS), the group who organized the rally.
“We want them to take notice and we want them to up the zoo standards, but we also feel that the zoo should be shut down as they have been in non-compliance of these standards for years.”
Protestors at the rally carried signs reading “Animals were not put here to be caged and neglected” and “Save the Animals at GuZoo,” while chanting “No excuse for animal abuse.”
But owner Lynn Gustafson has denied any wrongdoing taking place at his farm.
CAWWPS has also been circulating a petitition to revoke Gustafson’s license and shut down the zoo, which as of Thursday, had been signed by more than 30,000 people.
The group credits recent media attention and social media for the sudden rise in interest surrounding the zoo.
“Albertans are finally taking notice of how lax our standards are and what an embarassment they are and how the GuZoo is completely disregarding these very simple rules,” Johnston said.
Meanwhile, Gustafson says he’s begun to receive more calls and visitors supporting him and his facility.
He says he’s afraid some of his older animals, including a tiger and lion, may have to be put down if his license is denied.
“I’d just euthanize them, the older ones,” says Gustafson. “Being the age they are, they probably wouldn’t survive, they may as well live there days out here. It would not be fair to put them any place else, this is all they’ve known.”
GuZoo is home to about 500 animals from tigers and lions to exotic monkeys, birds and reptiles.
It is Canada’s largest private zoo and animal sanctuary.
Guzoo’s $100 license fee is up for renewal on April 1.