"I still have nightmares about the birds. I feel a tightness in my chest and all I can see are bright feathers; oranges and yellows and greens, all of the birds lying in heaps at the bottom of their enclosures. Glassy eyes staring at nothing. The splashes of blue and red feathers of a bonded pair of macaws, together in life and now in death. Dozens and dozens of dead parakeets and finches lying in their empty food dishes, waiting for food that will never come.
I start taking photos of everything because I’m in shock at what I’m seeing. Finally, I see Kiwi, a yellow naped Amazon parrot and the lone survivor, and she looks out across the bird room filled with death and cheerfully says, 'KIWI-KIWI-KIWI!' And I wake up with a start wondering, ‘Why did Kiwi get spared?’ But in reality, death would be a relief compared to Special Memories Zoo.
I recently learned a weasel got into Kiwi’s cage at the zoo and killed her. She survived zookeeper Gretchen Crowe and the bird room holocaust, only to be brutally executed anyway.
I think of how for months Gretchen went into that bird room of death and pretended to feed and water the animals. She convinced me they were all fine and she was taking care of them. For months I walked past, not knowing they were thirsty and starving; not knowing they were dead and decaying.
Who could starve 100 birds to death and leave them rot for months? A psychopath, that's who. Every day she stood among their corpses and played on her phone, duping me into believing she was caring for them while they slowly decayed. She knew the birds were my favorite and she deliberately killed them.
Gretchen came up with a lie for why the birds died, as she always did, and she suffered no consequences for starving them to death.
It is unfair that Gretchen Crowe gets to move on with no repercussions after destroying so many lives. It is unfair that the surviving animals are still being mistreated at other roadside zoos. It is also unfair that the USDA and the police do not take animal neglect seriously.
It’s been six years, but I still can’t forget about the birds. Although they are finally free of their pain and suffering, I’ll never forget what they experienced on this earth at the hands of pure evil."
Editor's note: This is a former Special Memories Zoo keeper's account of a 2015 incident where it is believed that Gretchen Crowe starved nearly 100 birds to death.