On what would have been Steve Irwin's 57th birthday, Google shared an Irwin-themed Google Doodle depicting drawings of the late wildlife advocate posing across a variety of scenes. But not everyone was on board with the tech giant commemorating Irwin. Animal rights organization PETA condemned Google for the art, and these tweets about PETA criticizing the Steve Irwin Google Doodle express a variety of opinions on PETA's stance.
On Friday, Feb. 22, Google celebrated what would have been Irwin's birthday (Irwin died after being pierced by a stingray in 2006) with a slideshow Doodle that showed Irwin doing several activities he did when he was alive — holding a crocodile in front of a jungle-themed background, traveling through a river on a boat, chilling with a humpback whale, and hanging out with his family, to name a few. After the Doodle went up, PETA sent out a series of tweets criticizing the company for their decision.
In the first tweet, PETA said that the Google Doodle sent out a "dangerous, fawning message." In the second tweet, the organization claimed Irwin's actions didn't actually support his message of protecting wildlife. PETA ended the thread by calling Irwin's behavior "harassment."
#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.
They followed it up later in the day with another tweet, which read:
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.
Elite Daily reached out to Google for comment on PETA's remarks, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
In response to PETA's criticism of Irwin, several Twitter users shared their own thoughts and opinions about the late wildlife advocate. Many of the tweets criticized PETA's stance on the issue of the Google Doodle and supported Irwin's legacy, which includes Wildlife Warriors, an organization started by Irwin and his wife, Terri Irwin, in 2002. Per the organization's website, it aims to "include and involve other caring people in the protection of injured, threatened or endangered wildlife." In response to a request for comment on the backlash, PETA shared a statement from President Ingrid Newkirk, which reads, "People should examine Steve Irwin’s record of wildlife molestation. He was like Bear Grylls, who is now in hot water for boiling a frog and also seems not to know the meaning of the word respect, alien to the idea of leaving animals alone. These are not heroes by any measure." (Grylls reportedly broke Bulgarian law while filming a recent episode of his show by allegedly violating the nature reserve's regulations when he allegedly "[killed] and [cooked] a frog," per CNN. Grylls' representation did not reply to Elite Daily's request for comment on the matter.)
When it came to defending Irwin's memory, many people took up the cause.
Even Irwin's son, Robert Irwin, shared the Google Doodle, and thanked Google for the "perfect way to celebrate" his dad's birthday.
Others appeared to call out PETA for its own actions (or inaction).
When it comes to settling the debate between PETA's view and Irwin's defenders, it appears that an Encyclopedia Brittanica entry about Irwin refers to him as an "Australian wildlife conservationist" and mentions that The Crocodile Hunter TV series regularly saw Irwin advocating for the conservation of wildlife. Even so, it doesn't look like PETA and Irwin fans will agree on how he should be remembered anytime soon.