PETA is being lambasted on social media after it vilified Google for honoring wildlife conservationist Steve Irwin on what would have been his 57th birthday.
The combative animal advocacy group – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – took aim at the search engine after it featured a ‘Google Doodle’ with illustrations of Irwin working with crocodiles and other animals at the Australia Zoo on its home page on Friday.
‘#SteveIrwin was killed while harassing a ray; he dangled his baby while feeding a crocodile & wrestled wild animals who were minding their own business,’ PETA wrote on Twitter.
‘Today’s #GoogleDoodle sends a dangerous, fawning message. Wild animals are entitled to be left alone in their natural habitats.’
The tweet was met with strong backlash from Twitter users praising Irwin’s wildlife preservation efforts and accusing PETA of hypocrisy given the high euthanasia rates in the organization’s animal shelters.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is being lambasted on social media after the animal rights group vilified Google for honoring wildlife conservationist Steve Irwin with a ‘Google Doodle’ illustration on what would have been his 57th birthday
Google’s featured illustrations of Irwin, a globally recognized conservationist who died in 2006, working with animals at the Australia Zoo on its home page on Friday (above)
PETA’s tweet was met with strong backlash from Twitter users praising Irwin’s wildlife preservation efforts and accusing the animal advocacy group of hypocrisy given the high euthanasia rates at its animal shelters
PETA later doubled down on its criticism of Irwin, writing in two tweets: ‘Steve Irwin’s actions were not on target with his supposed message of protecting wildlife. A real wildlife expert & someone who respects animals for the individuals they are leaves them to their own business in their natural homes.
‘It is harassment to drag exotic animals, including babies taken from their mothers, around from TV talk shows to conferences & force them to perform as Steve Irwin did. Animals deserve to live as they want to, not as humans demand––the #GoogleDoodle should represent that.’
Social media was flooded with posts defending Irwin, who gained global fame as a TV personality before he was killed by a stingray in 2006
Social media was flooded with posts defending Irwin, who gained global fame as a TV personality before he was killed by a stingray in 2006.
Several fans pointed out that when Irwin ‘wrestled’ crocodiles, he did so to move them out of areas where they were likely to be hunted.
Others shared how the Australian enthusiast’s passion for wildlife inspired their own animal activism.
‘Steve Irwin saved the lives of countless animals in his sanctuaries. He helped educate millions globally about animals’ needs and ways of life. He loved animals and cared for them greatly. You do some good work helping animals PETA, but how about some balance and more respect…,’ one man wrote on Twitter.
During his life, Irwin founded the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, an independent charity later renamed Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, as well as the International Crocodile Rescue, the Lyn Irwin Memorial Fund and the Iron Bark Station Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility.
He considered conservation to be the most important part of his work, telling The Age in 2003: ‘I consider myself a wildlife warrior. My mission is to save the world’s endangered species.’
One woman tweeted: ‘Steve Irwin and his family reclaim land for animals and run a massive wildlife rescue. His life mission was to save animals and educate people about them. I’m one of many vegetarians who rip out their hair when @peta weighs in. Shame on you,’ one woman wrote.
Another wrote: ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ratio as bad as @peta on #SteveIrwin. Like wow. He was one of the most recognized wildlife conservationists in the world, and Peta euthanizes 81% of the animals in its shelters? Hypocrites.’
As it was bombarded with negative responses on Twitter, PETA stood by its message in a statement from President Ingrid Newkirk that read: ‘PETA must ask who commissioned these dangerous, hagiographic cartoons of a man who died while harassing a stingray, dangled his baby while feeding a crocodile, and “wrestled” wild animals who were minding their own business.
‘This fawning, ignorant tribute is a slap in the face to the vast majority of people who acknowledge that wild animals are entitled to be left alone in their natural habitats.’
PETA’s latest controversial campaign against Irwin comes days after the group sparked outrage with a tweet about late designer Karl Lagerfeld, who died aged 85 last Tuesday.
PETA tweeted: ‘Karl Lagerfeld has gone, and his passing marks the end of an era when fur and exotic skins were seen as covetable. PETA sends condolences to our old nemesis’s loved ones.’
Many on Twitter said said the timing of the statement – which was posted just one day after his death – was ugly, disgusting and seemed off-key for an organization who preach kindness towards animals.
Several fans pointed out that when Irwin ‘wrestled’ crocodiles, he did so to move them out of areas where they were likely to be hunted
PETA later doubled down on its criticism of Irwin with two more tweets (above) and a statement from the organization’s president defending its unpopular position