Friday, May 18, 2012

Wolves feared poisoned at controversial GuZoo

By Bill Kaufmann ,Calgary Sun
First posted:
Guzoo
Guzoo wild animal park owner Lynn Gustafson mugs for a photo on Wednesday June 1, 2011 LYLE ASPINALL/CALGARY SUN
Operators of the contentious GuZoo say they fear the suspected poisoning death of two of its wolves was done to discredit the embattled attraction.

GuZoo owner Lynn Gustafson said he discovered on Tuesday a male timber wolf named Zookey and his mate Cheyenne dead in the exhibit space they share with their pups.

A preliminary autopsy performed by a veterinarian used by the roadside zoo, he said, suggests both animals — aged six to eight years — succumbed to poisoning.

“We want to get the results back from a second autopsy,” Gustafson said Wednesday, adding that assessment’s being done in Calgary.

But he said neither of the wolves had shown any prolonged sign of illness and that Cheyenne had given birth to pups just three weeks ago.

Gustafson said he suspects a critic of his business located near Three Hills 80 km northeast of Calgary killed the wolves to make GuZoo look bad as it faces possible closure by the province.
“It’s anything that makes you look bad ... our lawyer said we should make the situation clear before some of the do-gooders do,” he said.

“How militant can these people get?”

It’d be easy for someone with knowledge of the zoo, said Gustafson to access the wolf exhibit at night and plant poison.

The new litter’s five remaining orphaned pups, he said, can be adequately bottle-fed.
Social media campaigns have sprung up in a bid to close what critics call an unsanitary and cruel operation.

Last June, provincial officers who cited GuZoo for substandard operations cancelled its permit.
But the attraction has since been allowed to operate pending a judicial review.

The possible poisoning seems to dovetail with a recent threatening letter sent to GuZoo demanding it shut its gates “or you will face the consequences,” said Gustafson, reading the letter.

Meanwhile, he admitted GuZoo continues to operate “without a permit” while not knowing when the judicial review, which was indefinitely adjourned last December, will be complete.

Sgt. Joe Sangster of Three Hills RCMP confirmed he’d received a complaint from Gustafson about the dead wolves and said if toxicology results return positive, Mounties will investigate.

“Until we get something back from the autopsy, we don’t have anything to say one way or another,” said Sangster.

He said local emotions have run high over the GuZoo controversy.
“It’s a hot topic in the area — we just want to make sure all parties in this behave peacefully,” said Sangster.

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