HEMMINGFORD, Que. -- A Quebec zoo is defending itself after receiving criticism for allowing a group of Muslims to pray on its premises.

Parc Safari says it has been the subject of hateful and racist comments since a YouTube video was posted on Sunday showing the prayers.

A woman can be heard shouting, "we are too conciliatory," while another says she is against prayers in public spaces.

Zoo management says the Muslims respected all the guidelines and would have been expelled had they not.

Parc Safari officials say the zoo is a multicultural location.

It is in Hemmingford, about 70 kilometres south of Montreal.

"Safari Park is sorry that freedom of religion may offend people," the zoo said in a statement. "In any case, this was not the objective.

"Since last Sunday, Safari Park has been a victim of hate and racist comments. Safari Park is a place where everyone is welcome. A zoological institution is by definition a multicultural place where small and large can discover the wonderful diversity of nature and animals and thus develop affection and respect for this diversity, these differences, and their intrinsic beauty.

"We repeat: Safari Park is a place for everyone, regardless of nationality, religion, colour, culture or sexual orientation."