Google condemned by Peta for celebrating Steve Irwin: ‘He was killed while harassing a stingray’

Animal rights group responds to Google Doodle by saying the late TV ‘crocodile hunter’ was ‘killed while harassing a ray’ – crocodile hunter’s fans leap to his defence

Adam Lusher
Saturday 23 February 2019 11:41
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Steve Irwin: Google Doodle celebrates Australian conservationist and TV star on 57th birthday

Animal rights group Peta, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, appears to have a started and swiftly lost a battle over the reputation of late “crocodile hunter” Steve Irwin after branding the TV conservationist a man who was “killed harassing a ray”.

The group began its attack after Google celebrated Irwin with a doodle on what would have been his 57th birthday – had he not been stabbed through the heart by a short-tail stingray that he was trying to film in 2006.

Many were moved, some to tears, by the Google Doodle, which celebrated Irwin’s enthusiasm for saving endangered animals along with his catchphrase “Crikey!”

But Peta, or whoever was controlling the group’s Twitter account on Friday, was not amused.

It began a furious Twitter thread in which it stated: “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. Today’s Google Doodle sends a dangerous, fawning message. Wild animals are entitled to be left alone in their natural habitats.

“Steve Irwin’s actions were not on target with his supposed message of protecting wildlife. A real wildlife expert and 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 and force them to perform as Steve Irwin did.

“Animals deserve to live as they want to, not as humans demand – the Google Doodle should represent that.”

The thread, however, attracted furious responses, many of them referencing the real conservation work behind Irwin’s blokey, popularising TV wildlife shows.

Irwin and his wife Terri set up the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation in 2002 and it continues today as wildlife warriors. His “crocodile wrestling” began as work to capture and relocate saltwater crocodiles from places where anxious humans were likely to shoot them.

The first response to Peta came from Dave Hogg, a sports writer from Detroit, who told the animal rights group: “There have been few people who have done more for wildlife conservation and education than the Irwin family. You owe them an apology.”

This was followed by another social media user’s comment that: “Beyond all that, he took being lampooned on South Park in stride. He was a gift to the planet and we were lucky to have [had] him.”

One Australian, David Jones, did tweet in support of Peta, saying: “Steve Irwin was a poacher who stocked his zoo with poached animals and made millions from the abhorrent activity. He deserved what he got, it’s just a shame that it didn’t happen a couple of decades earlier.”

But Peta and Mr Jones seemed very much in the minority.

Steve Irwin's son went on Jimmy Fallon to melt hearts and follow in his father's footsteps

Peta was asked, rhetorically: “Where is your habitat for saving animals? You have a wildlife preserve anywhere? Do you have thousands of acres preserving animals from extinction? Steve Irwin spent his whole life wanting to save animals. Ya’ll [sic] are becoming ‘progressively’ pathetic.”

Peta was also accused of “rage marketing”, with one Twitter user writing: “You don’t actually give a f**k about any of what you’re saying about Steve Irwin.

“You knew that by dragging a beloved dead man’s name through the mud, you’d get more eyes and clicks on your brand. You know what you’re doing. Rage marketing works.”

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