Alberta's Roadside Zoo's - A Cruel Embarrassment

  • by: Devon McDonald
  • recipient: The Alberta Sustainable Resource Department

Alberta, Canada's richest province due to the Oil Boom, has an embarrassing  secret that even it's citizens seem to be unaware of. Zoos that have failed the accreditation process of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums are allowed to remain open despite their obvious lack of concern for animal welfare.

Definition of a Roadside Zoo:

"The roadside zoo is a grossly substandard, usually amateur facility that lacks trained, experienced animal care staff, proper funding and safety practices. Animals are confined to small, barren, often filthy cages, with next to nothing to do day in and day out. Animals in roadside zoos suffer poor welfare as a result of inadequate housing, care and diet. Deprived of opportunities to exercise their natural behaviours, most animals experience some degree of frustration and boredom. In the most severe cases, these animals become psychologically disturbed and may manifest abnormal behaviours."

The Alberta Government continues to claim that the Zoos are being inspected and are up to standard, despite the fact that obvious violations continue to be documented. These violations include;

  • Inappropriate social groupings (lions alone or with dogs, monkeys in solitary confinement)
  • Infrequent cleaning,
  • undersized enclosures,
  • no enrichment,
  • inappropriate food,
  • lack of or dirty water,
  • uncontrolled breeding,
  • inappropriate fencing and landscaping,
  • untreated injuries and illnesses, and more.

 Not only that, but they refused to release the Zoo Development plans which outline the standards they are to be conforming to, and will not clarify just who it is that performs these inspections and what kind of training they have, as well as whether the zoos are given a warning prior to inspections as many have claimed.

Although the Alberta Government updated the Alberta Zoo Standards, they continue to allow gross violations without enforcement and have failed to live up to their promises. The public must demand that the Sustainable Resource Development Ministry take this situation seriously and begin properly enforcing provincial legislation. Only zoo's capable of living up to the standards and achieving CAZA accreditation should be allowed to operate.

For Dozens of Pictures of Guzoo Animal Farm, correspondence between concerned animal lovers and the Gustafson's (owners of Guzoo), complaints from other individuals, reports from Zoocheck and WSPA as well as many experts, please visit:


We, the undersigned residents of Canada, petition the Legislative Assembly of Alberta to urge Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) not to renew the Zoo Permit of %u2018Guzoo Animal Farm%u2019 in Three Hills, Alberta. Inappropriate conditions for exotic species, undersized cages, uncontrolled breeding of domestic and exotic animals, dirty conditions, and lack of concern for the general well being of the animals at Guzoo by the Gustafson%u2019s is still an ongoing problem despite amendments to the Animal Protection Act in 2006. Claiming to run an animal rescue, while breeding dogs and cats and adopting out sick animals, the Gustafson%u2019s have little respect for the animals under their charge and do not see the need to improve. Their history shows that they are more concerned with obtaining more animals, breeding and selling animals, then they are with improving the conditions of their pre-existing residents.


Alberta is already home to three CAZA accredited facilities as well as multiple other private facilities that have shown a willingness and desire to improve and upgrade their operations. Guzoo%u2019s existence does little to help Alberta%u2019s booming economy; their controversial conditions and animal welfare standards are in fact a turn off to the vast majority of both Albertan%u2019s and tourists from other provinces and countries alike. Guzoo is an embarrassment to Albertans and fellow Canadians concerned with animal welfare; it reflects poorly upon the provinces%u2019 standards for animal care as a whole.


We also urge stricter and more detailed enforcement of the American Zoo Association%u2019s species specific care guidelines at all private zoo facilities in Alberta, including close control of the breeding of overpopulated captive species for the private pet trade, such as lions, tigers, skunks, and raccoons.



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