Google recently commemorated the late Steve Irwin with one of its doodles. The company described its tribute as a celebration of “the legendary Australian wildlife advocate & TV personality whose bravery & passion opened the eyes of millions to the wonders of wildlife”.
PETA’s American affiliate tweeted about the drawing, sparking conversation about “conservation” all over the globe:
#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
Irwin was no saint, nor would he have claimed to be. He was a showbiz personality, acting the part of a “wildlife warrior” brilliantly, while in reality exploiting and harassing the animals he claimed to protect.
Hauling animals into television studios and ambushing a crocodile with ropes, duct tape, and a camera crew – traumatising the animal and tempting other people to approach wild animals themselves or, even worse, purchase them to keep as “pets” – are examples of neither education nor conservation.
True wildlife experts, such as Jean-Michel Cousteau, frown on the idea of dragging exotic animals around in an endless parade of shows and exhibits and disturbing animals in their natural habitats. Cousteau stated that Irwin would “interfere with nature, jump on animals, grab them, hold them …. Of course, it goes very well on television. It sells, it appeals to a lot [of] people, but I think it’s very misleading. You don’t touch nature, you just look at it”.
Zoos and wildlife programmes are just show business. Please don’t support any business for which live animals are taken from their natural environment, exhibited, and exploited.