Status: Seems to be an urban legend reported as news
Remember that story
about the British parrot that kept squawking the phrase "I love you, Gary", thereby revealing to its owner, Chris Taylor, that his girlfriend was having an affair with a guy named Gary? It was all over the news about a week ago. (Charybdis posted it in the forum
.) Well, it's looking more and more like the story was bogus. The couple has been refusing offers of thousands of pounds to get their photo taken with the parrot. In fact, it's not clear that the couple even exists since the freelance reporters who produced the story are the only ones who have access to them. The New York Times has posted a correction
to its original story about the parrot:
An article on Wednesday about infidelity exposed by a chatty parrot described the way the parrot, owned by a man living with his girlfriend in Leeds, England, kept screeching the name of the woman's secret lover. When the parrot said "I love you, Gary," in what sounded like the woman's voice, her boyfriend (whose name is not Gary) broke up with her. Although the article reported that the information had been obtained from reports in The Daily Telegraph and other British newspapers, The Times could not verify the former couple's accounts because the information was given to the British press by a freelance journalist who charged for the account. The Times does not pay for information. The Times should have disclosed fully to readers why we relied on other news reports. Or, perhaps it would have been prudent, given that condition, for The Times to have resisted parroting the episode at all.
The New York Daily News encountered similar difficulties
when it tried to track down the couple, leading it to speculate that the entire thing was a case of an urban legend reported as news:
When The News' Adam Nichols investigated the tale, he found strikingly similar ones earlier in the year, in Israel and Germany. When contacted, freelancer Paul Hardaker, who wrote the original story, would not give up his sources. "You see the same stories about parrots over and over, going back hundreds of years," explained urban legend expert David Mikkelson, who runs the Web site www.snopes.com. "I really have a hard time believing that there are that many people who are caught by parrots blurting out their lovers' names."