Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, upset animal-rights group PETA after recently partnering with SeaWorld
. In just a week's time, new statements from the Irwin family have been released, online petitions have caught fire, and reactions continue to pour in via social media.
Appearing last week on "Good Morning America" with her mother and little brother
, she told the host she was proud to announce her new position as youth ambassador.
"I am so thrilled to announce I will be joining SeaWorld on a brand new initiative called Generation Nature, which is all about encouraging kids to get involved and be game-changers for wildlife and wild places," she said.
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Almost immediately following the 15-year-old Irwin's announcement, PETA released a statement harshly condemning her choice of partners
, and promoting their new documentary.
"The Irwin family has been exploiting animals for years, so it comes as no surprise that Bindi has agreed to become SeaWorld’s latest shill," they began.
"But plastering her face on SeaWorld’s website won’t cover up the fact that orcas, dolphins, and other animals are suffering in SeaWorld’s tiny tanks after being ripped from their families. What millions have realized—through PETA’s massive campaign and the hit documentary Blackfish—is that SeaWorld is no place for anyone who truly cares about animals. Bindi’s talk-show appearances are just a flimsy last-ditch effort by an abusement [sic] park hoping to make a buck."
Irwin and her family have not responded to the statement, however her grandfather, Bob Irwin, posted an open letter on his website
that doesn't take a stand as much as it offers guiding advice.
Part of it reads, "I can only hope that this partnership between SeaWorld and my granddaughter, who has followed in Steve’s footsteps, results in the best possible outcomes for the welfare of all animals held in captive facilities around the world . . . Steve had a big heart for wildlife, and where he saw injustice and cruelty, he spoke out."
The "Blackfish" documentary and related campaign, SeaWorldofHurt.com, made waves upon its July release last year, and has already attracted support from 13 major celebrities including Matt Damon and Willie Nelson.
The campaign was so successful that almost a year after the PR firestorm, a headline in Bloomberg Businessweek asks "Has SeaWorld Recovered From 'Blackfish'?"
Since Bindi's announcement, several online petitions have circulated asking her to step down from the new role. The largest has over 80,000 signatures
Comments in favor of her new venture have also surfaced in online posts, some coming from marine scientists like Kevin Lasagna
. "As a Marine Scientist and teacher from Florida I applaud you efforts with SeaWorld. Your father was a great man in the research and care of animals in zoological parks," he wrote on Irwin's Facebook page.
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