Yesterday, DeYoung Family Zoo in Wallace, MI, posted a part of their most recent USDA inspection report, with information on the report blacked out, in an apparent attempt to gaslight people into believing that it’s okay that 50 animals have disappeared from their roadside zoo in the past 14 months and it’s okay that 12 of the Special Memories Zoo animals cannot be found. I assure you, this is not okay. Here’s why:
Our founder spent five years working to shut the Special Memories Zoo down, only to find out in March 2020 that 35 animals had been burned alive and the decaying corpses of another 18 animals were found on the property. In bodycam footage, zookeeper Gretchen Crowe admitted she had not checked on those animals in nearly three months.
And on that same day that investigators were searching for the cause of the fire, while the corpses still lay on the ground and animals with severe burn injuries wandered the farm in need of euthanasia, Carrie Cramer of DeYoung Zoo was one of several predatory roadside zoo owners that descended on the zoo to work with Crowe to remove the surviving animals before they could be placed at sanctuaries.
But we were told this was a good thing. We were told the animals would have large enclosures and they’d be able to feel the grass under their feet and they’d have a home for the rest of their lives. But when we went to DeYoung Zoo to check on the animals, some of them were missing. And as USDA inspection reports were released, we watched the Special Memories Zoo animals disappear off of the DeYoung Zoo animal inventory.
“But Carrie Cramer is so nice,” we were told. “Just ask her what happened to the animals; she’ll tell you.” But what actually happened when we asked Carrie Cramer where the Special Memories Zoo animals went, was that Cramer viciously threatened our representative and attacked her vehicle when she tried to leave.
And now, rather than addressing the location of the missing Special Memories Zoo animals, and the other missing animals, Cramer has instead taken to social media with an edited USDA inspection report, conveniently omitting the portion of the report that documents the animals that are at her facility. And why did she feel the need to black out the USDA inspector’s name? Is it because she doesn’t want people to know that her USDA inspector, Jessica Rivera, is the same USDA inspector at the most terrible roadside zoos in the Midwest including the now-defunct Special Memories Zoo, whose zookeeper starved hundreds of animals to death, and Wild Bill’s Exotics, whose owner shot someone to death over stolen venomous reptiles?
Cramer is apparently already setting up her alibi for when the missing Special Memories Zoo animals are inevitably located at other facilities and in one social media post she insinuated that some of DeYoung Zoo’s animals were “out of our facility on loan to other zoos.” If this is true, why not simply say that and name the zoos the animals are on loan to, rather than becoming physically violent and gaslighting your followers?
In addition, Cramer’s post indicated that the USDA inspector had access to the records documenting the location of the missing animals, not that the inspector had actually ever examined those records. We have no evidence to indicate that Inspector Jessica Rivera has ever inspected animal inventory records at any roadside zoo.
Before you believe DeYoung Zoo’s misinformation campaign, I urge you to review the records yourself. Anyone that has been to the DeYoung Zoo in the past two years knows the facility has lions. Now, look at the USDA animal inventory from November 9, 2021, and ask yourself, where are the two lions?
When DeYoung Zoo obtained the 31 animals from Special Memories Zoo, they had an obligation to care for them and to provide them with a better life. Instead, it appears they have trafficked the animals and they refuse to say where. This is unacceptable and we will not stop searching until we find the location of the missing Special Memories Zoo animals.
** To view all of DeYoung Zoo’s animal interstate transport records from 2019-2021, click the link below and scroll to the bottom. You can also download the full USDA inspection reports and animal inventory for DeYoung Zoo for 2020 and 2021.
Other USDA inspection reports for DeYoung Zoo can be downloaded free of charge by visiting https://aphis-efile.force.com/PublicSearchTool/s/