People Are P*ssed At PETA's Attack Over Google's Steve Irwin Tribute

Animals rights organisation PETA has hit out at a Google Doodle dedicated to the late Steve Irwin, which it says sends a "dangerous fawning message" about animal rights.

Google used its search engine homepage to honour Irwin's life and work on Friday, which would have been the conservationist's 57th birthday.

A slideshow of animated illustrations depicted the world-famous crocodile hunter kissing a snake, holding crocs, spending time with his family and performing at Queensland's Australia Zoo -- where Irwin's work in animal conservation continues today.

One of the Google Doodle illustrations. Image: Google

But controversial activist group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) took issue with the decision to pay tribute to the famous late Australian.

"#SteveIrwin was killed while harassing a ray; he dangled his baby while feeding a crocodile & wrestled wild animals who were minding their own business," the organisation tweeted.

"Today's #GoogleDoodle sends a dangerous fawning message. Wild animals are entitled to be left alone in their natural habitats."

The response on social media to the comments was swift and widespread, as people condemned PETA for speaking so ill of an iconic and beloved figure in the conservation community.

More than 24,000 people responded to the original Tweet, often referring to the organisation's practice of euthanising a large proportion of the animals it acquires. 

READ MORE: 'Feed Two Bird With One Scone': PETA Calls For An End To 'Speciesism' 

"Steve Irwin raised incredible amounts of money for wildlife charities, campaigned to protect endangered species, and taught a generation of children to love and respect animals," one tweet read.

"Meanwhile, PETA, you literally kill the vast majority of animals you 'rescue'."

It's an issue that has made headlines in the past.

In 2017, PETA was successfully sued for taking and killing by lethal injection a nine-year-old girl's pet Chihuahua three years prior. The case sparked widespread criticism and the organisation was forced to pay the family $US49,000.

Irwin died in 2006 when he was stung through the heart by a stingray while diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

In an emotional blog accompanying the Google Doodle tribute, Irwin's wife Terri spoke of her family's wish to continue the work her husband began despite his death.

'We are so proud that his legacy lives on, as that was his greatest wish. He once said, "I don't care if I'm remembered, as long as my message is remembered",' she wrote.

"Bindi, Robert and I have dedicated our lives to the wildlife conservation work that Steve began."

Despite the heated backlash to the post, PETA doubled down on its comments a few hours after the first Tweet, insisting that 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," another tweet said.

"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."

READ MORE: PETA Slammed For 'Disgusting' Response To Karl Largerfeld's Death

The comments come just three days after people criticised PETA for attacking another famous figure after their death.

Following the death of iconic fashion designer Karl Largerfeld, the group shared a message about his use of fur and exotic skins.  Many felt the comments were distasteful given the circumstances.

Contact the author: