Worship the great Guzoo?

An zoo in Alberta needed salvation and what better way could there be to deliver it besides calling itself a church? It’s unlikely to work for long, though.

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.

That CBC article includes a link to an earlier article about Gustafson’s zoo and Alberta’s government demanding it be decommissioned due to deplorable conditions for the 400 some animals he keeps there.

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.

I don’t know where I stand on the issue of zoos. I’m not a huge fan of them but they could hardly send every captive animal “home” and know for certain they’d live to a ripe old age of whatever. Actions of some kind need to be taken to protect endangered species (especially when that endangerment is humanity’s fault in the first place) but they shouldn’t have to live in squalor in order to be saved. The needs of the animal are important.

Zoocheck Canada has a list of articles (mostly PDF) about the ongoing issues with Guzoo over the past 15 years. Gustafson has a spotty track record by the look of things and calling his zoo a “parsonage” doesn’t automatically mean he’ll radically change his habits or improve conditions for the animals in there. It doesn’t sound like he’s much of a saviour.

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