GuZoo Mania – Social media changes everything

I live in Alberta, Canada. I like it. My family settled here in 1900. Six generations have lived here, mostly happily, I think. And a lot of my relatives have continued living the agrarian life that is so prominent here. Depending on the land and animals for survival makes one aware of the delicate balance between what is taken and what is given. There have always been humans who take more than they give. And there are those who give more. And, not insignificantly, there are those who intend to give, but fail, and find themselves in a terrible situation.

I hope that is what happened at GuZoo, a roadside “zoo” outside of Three Hills, Alberta. A “mass media blitz”, as Edmonton news networks are calling it, has brought GuZoo into the public awareness, mere days before its license is up for renewal. I hope that Lynn Gustafson started his operation with the best intentions. Perhaps he meant well and found himself in over his head. But the fact remains that animal rights groups have been receiving complaints since 1987 about the condition of the facility. Twenty-four years. More than the lifetime of many of its supporters.

So, what is the other side of the story? Living in a community like Three Hills, there is no way that a family and a business can exist without having friends and relatives. People are speaking out in support of the facility, and reacting to personal remarks about the family that runs it. I think that it is entirely possible that they are a lovely family. I know many wonderful people in that area, and they are generally down to earth, kind, generous, and very real people.

Personal statements about a complete stranger are suspect, at best. I am continually frustrated by the inability or unwillingness of people to condemn a person’s actions without devaluing the person. Actions can be deplorable, loathsome, completely unacceptable in the eyes of another person or the law. But a human is a human is a human. If we degrade the worth of a person, how can we ever hope to make a difference to them? How can we label someone less human, or less a part of society, and then expect them to conform to human behaviour or society’s standards? How, in this instance, can we fight for the rights of the animals who we feel have been mistreated, when we take away the rights and dignity of a fellow human?

I am grief-stricken, heartbroken, and so outraged by what I have seen that I have a very hard time not lashing out from my safe hiding place here behind my computer. But no cause is advanced by action driven by emotion. I cry at the videos and pictures from multiple sources. I had awful dreams last night. And I want to shake the people who are fighting to keep the place open. Not to mention the owner and his son who would, and they both said it, sell the animals to taxidermy rather than have them taken away. Though the condition of some of them makes that unlikely.

So, without making it a petty squabble or a contest to see who can defame the character of the other faster, what can we do?

Express yourself in a calm, rational, legal way. No slander, no threatening communication, no cyber-bullying. These things only discredit the cause. There is an online petition to sign, and to have it count, use your full name and legitimate email address. The petition is here: Guzoo Licensing Petition it takes just seconds. Please, send it to your friends, anyone, and sign it!!

Make yourself heard! It’s so easy to add your voice, on Twitter, Facebook, and by emailing those responsible for renewing the license of Guzoo. CTV and Global both have Facebook pages, and there are dedicated forums on both websites for this topic. The Alberta SPCA has a Facebook page, as does Mel Knight, in charge of Sustainable Resources in Alberta. There are groups to join too, where information is available, and where you can express yourself. Like this one: Shut Down Guzoo .

Educate yourself, read articles, watch the videos, see the information from more than one source. Being prepared to defend your stance is vital to being heard. Here are a few links to get you started (I’ve linked directly to the relevant articles, just click! ^_^) Disclaimer: there are graphic images and videos that you should preview before letting children see them. Calgary Herald Metro News The Official Guzoo site Zoocheck report on Guzoo Guzoo video from 2008 please watch part one and two. Even if it breaks your heart. Guzoo video 2004 CTV Edmonton

There are so many more out there, if you Google Guzoo, you could spend all day reading about it. But I don’t recommend more than a few articles at a time, lest you become too overwhelmed to act.

Okay, I think I’ve said what I wanted to say, I hope I managed to do it articulately, and rationally, and I hope that whether you agree with me or not, you can see the need to respect people, even if you disagree with their point of view. Neither side benefits when its supporters act rashly and lash out.

On that note, I’m ending this post with a plea: Look at the article, watch the videos, let your heart break, and do something about it. This degrades animals, and us as the humans who have been entrusted with their care.



~ by Trillian on 03/29/2011.

2 Responses to “GuZoo Mania – Social media changes everything”

  1. Your rationality in your approach to this is markedly different from that to which I am accustomed, and it is very much a refreshing change.


  2. Thanks for the link back.

    When I first started going over the GuZoo website (which I read first, before digging further – I like to get a feel or impression of the people before reading other reports) my instinct pinged on “oh, his wife died in 2005, maybe that caused them to spiral down and become overwhelmed to the point they are not caring for the animals properly…”

    I always try to keep the people in mind first, as much as I love animals, and wonder how it got to the situation it is today (education is so important).

    Unfortunately, as I started digging further, I found multiple reports and photos dating back over twenty years! At that point, I lost all respect or compassion for the Gustafson’s.

    They have been warned and notified of violations for years. This fact alone leads me to believe that they are purposely not caring for their animals properly. If the SPCA came to my house and told me I was doing something wrong in the care of my animals, I would correct it immediately, research it, and learn about what I obviously had a lack of understanding about. That is what a responsible adult in charge of the care and wellbeing of animals does. Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is at least an explanation. Once.

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