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The doodle celebrated what would have been Irwin’s 57th birthday on Thursday. But PETA weighed in with scathing words.
“#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 tweeted Friday. “Today’s #GoogleDoodle sends a dangerous, fawning message. Wild animals are entitled to be left alone in their natural habitats.”
#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
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.— PETA (@peta) February 23, 2019
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.— PETA (@peta) February 23, 2019
Folks on Twitter—including celebrities—took offense to tweets, and some called out PETA for being insensitive to Irwin’s family.
“So your response here is this Human deserved what he got and is better off dead?!” Drake Bell tweeted. “You are a disgusting organization and and should be absolutely ashamed!! He was a FATHER and a HUSBAND and did WAY more for wild life conservation than the IDIOT INTERN hired to write this tweet!”
So your response here is this Human deserved what he got and is better off dead?! You are a disgusting organizationand and should be absolutely ashamed!! He was a FATHER and a HUSBAND and did WAY more for wild life conservation than the IDIOT INTERN hired to write this tweet!— Drake Bell (@DrakeBell) February 24, 2019
“You do realize his wife and children will see this, don’t you? I also believe grieving family members should be respected enough to be left alone from shitty commentary on a tragic death—or is compassion and empathy simply left only for animals?” wrote The View host Meghan McCain.
You do realize his wife and children will see this, don't you? I also believe grieving family members should be respected enough to be left alone from shitty commentary on a tragic death - or is compassion and empathy simply left only for animals? https://t.co/8nMRGiiLy6— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) February 23, 2019
*PETA tweets disrespectfully about Steve Irwin*— Bhristian Grey (@DapperProfessor) February 23, 2019
I'm an Australian wildlife rescue volunteer. #SteveIrwin and his family gave an awful lot of quiet, unpublicised support to organisations like mine. He was a serious conservationist & did the hard & unglamourous work required. PETA are attention-seeking posers by comparison— Greg (@humbleminion) February 23, 2019
I feel it’s safe to assume that I speak for all Aussie’s when I say this, PETA you fucked up real bad and talking shit about our beautiful Steve is like a personal and vicious attack on every single Aussie......you just started war with an entire country!— Mum thats a bad word! (@Christielee2806) February 23, 2019
One Twitter user pointed out that dragging PETA even garnered nonpartisan support.
PETA: Steve Irwin..— Horace (@jay55mcdonald) February 24, 2019
Literally Republicans and Democrats agreeing on one thing: pic.twitter.com/OglJ1291aH
Irwin, dubbed the Crocodile Hunter after his hit ’90s tv series, is often thought of as an animal activist and lover himself. He died in 2006 after a stingray stung him in the heart heart during filming of a series called Ocean’s Deadliest.
BuzzFeed reports that PETA’s president, Ingrid Newkirk, issued an official response to the doodle:
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.
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Eilish O'Sullivan is an editorial intern for the Daily Dot studying journalism and government at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle and the Daily Texan.