Animal rights activist group PETA have been savaged for slamming Steve Irwin’s “actions” and “harassment” of wildlife on the very day he would have turned 57.
Twitter users were outraged as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) hit out at a series of cartoons depicting the Australian wildlife advocate in a commemorative Google Doodle on the search engine’s home page on Friday, February 22 – Irwin’s birthday.
“Steve Irwin was killed while harassing a ray; he dangled his baby while feeding a crocodile and wrestled wild animals who were minding their own business,” PETA tweeted.
“Today’s Google Doodle sends a dangerous, fawning message. Wild animals are entitled to be left alone in their natural habitats,” PETA’s post continued.
#SteveIrwin was killed while harassing a ray; he dangled his baby while feeding a crocodile & wrestled wild animals who were minding their own business. Today’s #GoogleDoodle sends a dangerous, fawning message. Wild animals are entitled to be left alone in their natural habitats. https://t.co/9JfJiBhGLw
— PETA (@peta) February 22, 2019
Google pays tribute to Steve Irwin
The Google Doodle slideshow documented the different phases of Irwin’s life, including his early years, catching and relocating crocodiles for the Queensland government.
The animal activist and entertainer, who starred on wildlife documentary series The Crocodile Hunter, spent months at a time retrieving crocodiles in remote areas of far north Queensland with his small dog, Sui.
The animation, by artist Shanti Rittgers, also paid homage to Irwin’s showmanship in the crocodile enclosure, his romance with wife, Terri Irwin, his father, Bob Irwin and children, Bindi and Robert.
The TV personality took control of his father’s wildlife park in 1991, renaming it Australia Zoo in 1998.
Irwin died on September 4, 2006, after being pierced through the heart by a stingray while diving on the Great Barrier Reef, near Port Douglas.
Bindi, Robert and Terri have continued to dedicate their lives to wildlife conservation and to follow Irwin’s motto of “conservation through exciting education”.
Twitter storm in support of the crocodile hunter
Twitter exploded after PETA posted its cheap shot at both Irwin and Google, with the initial tweet receiving a staggering 20,000 comments, with some calling the post “disgusting” and “ignorant”.
“You knew that by dragging a beloved dead man’s name through the mud, you’d get more eyes and click on your brand,” Ryan Magee wrote.
“Ya know what you’re doing. Rage marketing works.”
All of Australia is ready to punch on with PETA, as if they thought they could disrespect Steve Irwin like that bunch of fkn drongos aye
— Desiree (@rabbitohslover) February 23, 2019
— David 🇬🇧 (@DavidAtkins42) February 23, 2019
Animal lovers, protectors and foundations agreed the tweet was in dreadful taste, and that PETA had – again – gone too far in its attempt to raise its profile with shock tactics.
Others took a less sombre approach.
— Carolaen (@Moonstone1812) February 23, 2019
But PETA didn’t stop there, firing back with continued scorn for the famous “crocodile hunter”, saying his “actions were not on target” and again branding his relationship with animals as “harassment”.
“Steve Irwin’s actions were not on target with his supposed message of protecting wildlife,” another PETA tweet read.
“A real wildlife expert and someone who respects animals for the individuals they are leaves them to their own business in their natural homes.”
On what would have been Irwin’s 57th birthday on Friday, broadcaster Animal Planet, which aired the animal entertainer for years, described him as “inspirational”.
“Join us today, on what would have been Steve Irwin’s 57th birthday, in celebrating the extraordinary life of this inspirational Australian and passionate Wildlife Warrior. Happy Birthday, Steve!” Animal Planet posted on its Facebook page on Friday.
Last month, PETA created controversy after barbecuing a fake dog in Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall in a bid to stop people eating meat on Australia Day.
On its website, the animal activist group itself concedes it does “extraordinary things” to get its message out:
“Thus, we try to make our actions colourful and controversial, thereby grabbing headlines around the world”.
The New Daily has sought comment from Steve Irwin’s family and Australia Zoo.