PETA draws backlash after comments regarding the late Steve Irwin

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Gabby Lancaster

Animal rights activist group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), initiated an online controversy when they replied to Google’s doodle of the day, a drawing of the iconic animal conservationist Steve Irwin.  
On what would have been Irwin’s 57th birthday, Feb. 22, PETA bashed Google’s celebration claiming that “Irwin was killed while harassing a ray…Wild animals are entitled to be left alone in their natural habitats,” PETA tweeted.  
Irwin, also known as “The Crocodile Hunter,” was killed by a stingray while filming a documentary in 2006.  PETA seemingly called out Irwin’s careless nature with animals as the cause of his tragic death.
PETA’s incredibly sensitive tweet sent the Internet into a frenzy, as social media users came to the defense of Irwin, immediately bringing up PETA’s own previous controversies, like their history of killing animals and their mistreatment of them.  
PETA responded to the backlash by tweeting, “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.”  
The follow up tweets only sparked more anger as people continued to call out the organization’s own faults and called Irwin a serious conservationist who loved all animals, even those that bit him or scratched him at times.  
Despite the controversy, PETA has stood by their statements and has not issued an apology.