Animal rights group PETA has found itself at the centre of another social media storm after it criticized deceased Australian TV conservationist Steve Irwin.

Irwin was celebrated in Friday’s Google Doodle animated slideshow, on what would have been his 57th birthday.

He died in 2006 at the age of 44 after being pierced in the heart by a stingray barb while filming an underwater documentary.

But PETA weighed in on the animation on Twitter, saying the doodle sent a “dangerous, fawning message.”

“PETA must ask who commissioned these dangerous, hagiographic cartoons of a man who died while harassing a stingray, dangled his baby while feeding a crocodile and ‘wrestled’ wild animals who were minding their own business,” the tweet stated.

“This fawning, ignorant tribute is a slap in the face to the vast majority of people who acknowledge that wild animals are entitled to be left alone in their natural habitats.”

But a lot of Twitter users were unhappy with PETA’s take on Irwin’s legacy.

“There have been few people who have done more for wildlife conservation and education than the Irwin family. You owe them an apology,” tweeted Dave Hogg, a sports writer from Detroit.



Author Maureen Johnson also slammed PETA for its tweet.

“Steve Irwin and his family reclaim land for animals and run a massive wildlife rescue,” she wrote.

“His life mission was to save animals and educate people about them. I’m one of many vegetarians who rip out their hair when PETA weighs in. Shame on you.”

And Twitter user Steven Spohn praised Google for recognizing Irwin.

“Steve dedicated his life to animal conservation. He brought attention to animals who needed protection and he taught a generation of children, including me, the value of all life,” he wrote.

“How each and every animal should be respected.”

Irwin, who is nicknamed “The Crocodile Hunter”, was a zookeeper and received numerous national and international awards for his conservation work.

“Today’s slideshow Doodle celebrates and explores the life and legacy of wildlife conservationist and television personality Steve Irwin, who inherited a love of large reptiles early on in life and shared it with the world through his work at the Australia Zoo and his popular TV series The Crocodile Hunter,” Google said about the doodle on Friday.

“Irwin and his family dedicated their lives to the preservation and appreciation of earth’s wildlife and wild places.”

PETA was also ridiculed in December after it called for an end to “anti-animal language.”

In a tweet, the group encouraged people to refrain from using common sayings that “trivialize” cruelty to animals.