04/01/2015 10:08 EDT | Updated 04/01/2015 10:59 EDT

GuZoo Closure: Alberta's Controversial Private Zoo Has 30 Days To Clean Up Its Act, Or Else


GuZoo, Alberta's controversial private zoo, has long been under scrutiny for what some people believe to be animal mistreatment and in some cases, outright cruelty.

As of April 1, the Three Hills facility has been issued a temporary permit, which gives the zoo 30 days to upgrade and improve its conditions.

If the zoo does not improve the animals' living conditions, welfare, visitor safety, and more, the province will permanently shut it down.

“We’re giving them 30 days to address these [standards] and if they don’t meet them, they’ll be required to decommission,” provincial spokesperson Duncan MacDonnell said in an interview with Metro News Calgary.

The infamous Gustafson family, who run the facility, have not yet commented on the fate of the zoo or their feelings toward the mandatory action.

This is not the first time GuZoo has made the news -- in the summer of 2013, a whistleblower at the zoo shot undercover footage of animal cages and the zoo's procedures. The disturbing video shows rotting animal carcasses left in cages and filthy fridges with maggots crawling on the food, among other things.

Protestors also frequently take action against the zoo, in some cases cutting the fences to release the animals, and in others just holding protests outside the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton and Calgary Courts Centre.

In 2011, Alberta temporarily revoked GuZoo’s operating permit, but later issued a temporary one on the condition that they meet the province's standards of operation.

Not much work has been done on that front, and it's been almost four years. And after a provincial examination in early March 2015, inspectors were concerned at the state of the facility, specifically related to "animal health-care, general animal care, animal protection, public and staff safety (and) annual inventory."

McDonnell did not elaborate on any further infractions.

GuZoo opened in 1990 and is home to some 400 animals, ranging from tigers to monkeys to camels to bears.

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