Canada: Graphic photos taken inside embattled zoo spark RCMP investigation, outrage


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Graphic photos taken inside embattled zoo spark RCMP investigation,

Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Monday, July 8, 2013 5:42PM MDT
Last Updated Monday, July 8, 2013 6:45PM MDT

Graphic images and video have surfaced on the internet, depicting the apparent living conditions some animals living in an embattled central Alberta zoo, and they’re photos that have put the facility under fire again.

The photos and video were posted by an animal rights group, Council of Concerned Albertans for Animal Welfare and Public Safety, and it’s believed they were captured at the Guzoo Animal Farm near Three Hills over the Canada Day long weekend, by an anonymous whistleblower.

The images have a number of animal rights activists outraged – it shows what looks like dead dogs in a pile of garbage, and animal food infested with maggots.

“The video footage inside the bird and baboon cages show gross neglect,” Bonnie Farion told CTV News. “The accumulation of feces and filth and the rotting food, that’s a huge concern.”

The animal rights group said the photos outline exactly how bad conditions at the Guzoo are.

“They have over 400 animals, and they have less than five staff members,” Farion said. “They just don’t have the ability to take care of the animals like they need to be taken care of.”

It’s not the first time Guzoo has come under fire, although owner Lynn Gustafson wouldn’t confirm if the images were taken on his property, but admitted they have a pit where garbage is burned, and all of the images were taken in an area that’s off-limits to the public.

“If you go to the Calgary zoo, you could see dead animals of you trespass,” Gustafson said. “So this is an area off-limits.”

In one photo, a tiger appears to be in the pit where garbage is burned, however, Gustafson said it was a plush tiger – the owner also said sometimes dogs are euthanized if homes for them can’t be found.

The owner also admitted some food may have become infested with maggots, but that food wouldn’t have been fed to the animals – he said officials have also inspected his property recently.

“As far as the pictures go, we have been vindicated as far as I’m concerned,” Gustafson said. “The SPCA was here on Friday…and there was no problem.”

Gustafson told CTV news he had filed a complaint with the RCMP, saying these types of incidents are a violation of his privacy, and raise concerns for his family’s safety.

RCMP confirmed they are investigating.

In the fall of 2012, Guzoo was almost decommissioned, before the provincial government gave the farm the go ahead to continue operations.

However, the animal rights group said any changes made in recent years to the facility have been aesthetic, and numerous zoo standards are being broken – the group said they believe the animals are not being fed species specific diets, and their enclosures are not cleaned regularly.

With files from Nicole Weisberg



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