Greenville zoo argues against abuse and neglect allegations by country star Tanya Tucker
Country music artist Tanya Tucker is asking the U.S Department of Agriculture to investigate Special Memories Zoo in Greenville.
This comes after Tucker paid a special visit to the zoo and said she saw abuse and neglected animals.
"Don't believe everything you hear,” zookeeper Gretchen Crowe said. “Don't believe everything you read on the internet. It doesn't necessarily mean it's true."
Crowe did not want to be interviewed on-camera but said she is upset Tucker would go this far.
"We opened the zoo and it was off-season so that she could meet our giraffe.” Crowe said. “Why she wrote this, it was in November."
Crowe shared a text-message thread between her and Tucker.
Crowe said Tucker was visiting because she planned on buying a baby giraffe and monkey for her ranch in Texas.
According to Crowe, she and Tucker shared a mutual friend who asked her to let Tucker see the animals during off season.
In an open letter to fans recently written by Tucker, she said a recent visit to the zoo didn't go very well.
Tucker described the animals' living situation as an "animal hospice."
"The bird room had several birds with what appeared to be broken wings," Tucker said in the letter.
"The jaguar was so clearly frightened and was foaming at the mouth," Tucker wrote, and, "The giraffe also appeared to have massive tumors right behind his front legs."
"There was some food in the cage that zoo staff told me was raw meat, but it did not look like meat, and the lions did not touch it the entire time I was there," she wrote.
Crowe denied all of the allegations and said the zoo does not have a jaguar.
"So if there was meat left, it was left from that morning," said Crowe, "and it's like us if you eat supper and there's a plate full of donuts if you're still full you're not necessarily going to eat the donuts just because they're there,"
"The giraffe does not have tumors. They have wrinkles in their skin," she added.
Crowe also said she can't understand why Tucker would write such a letter five months after her visit. Tucker is working with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to urge the USDA to investigate the zoo.
"We're inspected at least twice a year," said Crowe. "If our pens didn't meet inspection, we wouldn't have these animals."
Crowe said they welcome the USDA to come and investigate anytime.
"There's really all there is to it," said Crowe. "We just do what we need to do to make sure the animals are healthy and happy."