Bindi Irwin faces backlash over SeaWorld ties


Bindi Irwin is facing a backlash in the US after entering one of America's most heated public relations battles.

The 15-year-old, alongside mother Terri and brother Robert, announced during an appearance on the top-rating US morning TV program, Good Morning America, on Thursday she is teaming up with SeaWorld theme parks.

Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment Inc has been pounded by bad press, protests and boycotts by performers including Willie Nelson and The Beach Boys the past year after the release of the award-winning film documentary Blackfish, which probes the treatment of killer whales at the company's theme parks.

"I'm so excited to be carrying on in Dad's footsteps and making sure that everything he worked so hard for continues for the generations to come," Bindi said, speaking of her father Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin, who died in 2006 from a stingray barb.

"That's why I'm thrilled to be empowering kids. I'm thrilled to be partnered up with SeaWorld," Bindi said. "Thrilled to be part of this new project Generation Nature and just encouraging kids to change the world."

SeaWorld has launched an aggressive online and media campaign against the Blackfish documentary, including placing full-page ads in America's biggest-selling newspapers titled: "Open Letter from SeaWorld's Animal Advocates."

SeaWorld has also spent US$70 million (A$78 million) improving its killer-whale habitats the past three years.

SeaWorld, unrelated to the Queensland theme park Sea World, has parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio.

PETA also made following statement: “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. 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 park hoping to make a buck.”

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