On Friday, renowned Australian conservationist Steve Irwin’s birth anniversary was commemorated by Google with a doodle of him with a crocodile. Irwin died after being attacked by a stingray in 2006. The doodle prompted his fans to put up tributes on social media, but animal rights organisation People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were miffed with the search engine’s “dangerous, fawning message”.
In a series of tweets, the organisation criticised Irwin’s work and alleged that he was killed while harassing a stingray. “#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,” the group wrote on Twitter.
Questioning Irwin’s practices, they claimed that he did not follow his message of protecting the wildlife. According to the group, ‘a real wildlife expert’ who claims to ‘respect animals’ would leave them alone.
In a statement, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said, “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.”
However, Irwin’s fans would have none of it as they took to Twitter to remind PETA of some of their own wrongdoings.
What’s your policy on leaving chihuahuas alone? pic.twitter.com/AE1pUoIMIM
— Justin Whang (@JustinWhang) February 22, 2019
Hey , quick question, Peta, how many crocs do YOU save , how many animals that you ” rescue” are still alive and healthy? You’re known for kidnapping pets and EUTHANIZING them. To spread such blatant hate and lies against a man who TRULY loved all animals is wrong. #CancelPeta
— DarkStrangeVirgil/TaakitzStan (@AnxiPurpleChild) February 23, 2019
.@peta is responsible for a lot of animal deaths. So I don’t know.. maybe we should try to get rid of them. saves a lot of animals.
— Star Burger (@StarBurgernl) February 23, 2019
Imagine dragging a beloved man’s name through the mid to try and stay relevant. How absolutely pathetic can you get? Wait don’t answer that because you euthanized domestic animals after STEALING them from their homes. You’re “organization” is a disgrace.
— Space Night (@lilyspastels) February 23, 2019
He relocated those crocs 2 area where they could live w/o the threat of humans who would’ve shot them. He discovered ways 2 do it w/ the least amount of stress 2 the animal. He taught the world about food chains & conservation.
U parade naked people around 4 attention. Sit down.
— LadyB724 (@LadyB94349796) February 23, 2019
Steve did more for animals and there correct treatment in only one of his episodes, then you’ve accomplished in your entire existence. If i read the comments you can clearly see that Steve Irwin still has many fans who still love him and see what he really did for the wildlife.
— Wiechers (@erwi2312) February 23, 2019
The Irwin’s care deeply about animals &are helping prevent the extinction of many species. They also rescue & rehabilitate wild animals & release them back to the wild. Don’t conflate animal cruelty & bringing an animal on a talk show. FFS PICK ANOTHER PUNCHING BAG #SteveIrwin
— Kristen Kuruugaa (@kristenkuruugaa) February 23, 2019
PETA’s website also features a blog on Irwin under the title of “Wildlife biologist or Hollywood star?” where they further criticise his work.
The group also drew a lot of flak for calling recently-deceased designer Karl Lagerfield a “nemesis”. “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,” the PETA UK Twitter account had posted after his death.