After a bit of a lull, the backlash against SeaWorld and its treatment of marine animals has been given a new round of energy online and in the media. The cause? An announcement yesterday on "Good Morning America" by none other than 15-year-old Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late, famed conservationist and TV personality Steve Irwin.
“We are so thrilled to finally be joining SeaWorld on a brand new initiative called Generation Nature, which is all about encouraging kids to get involved and be gamechangers for wildlife and wild places,” she said, adding that she would become a youth ambassador for the marine park.
In the 24 hours since, the Internet has exploded with derision, outrage, disappointment,and the occasional voice of support for the young conservationist. Even animal rights organization PETA wasted no time in slamming the move.
"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," the group said in a statement. "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."
Facebook pages dedicated to the young star — as well as the official page for her family's Australian zoo — have been flooded with disappointed fans asking her to drop the association and re-think her SeaWorld decision. Some, however, are applauding the partnership, with hope that someone like Bindi on the inside could lead to positive changes at SeaWorld.
"To all of you that are 'so disappointed or disgusted' with this partnership, why not look at this positively?," writes one commenter. "Perhaps having a true conservationist involved now she will be able to bring about change!"
Despite the wave of growing petitions (with one already approaching 31,000 signatures), Irwin appears resolute in her decision to go ahead with the partnership. While she's said nothing official with regards to the backlash, she is re-tweeting positive support from fans.