The Brief: The controversial animal rights organization PETA was widely criticized online after bashing Steve Irwin and Pokémon.


PETA vs. Steve Irwin

Google gave tribute to the late”Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin on his 57th birthday with a Google Doodle that honored him and his legacy as an educator and wildlife advocate. On Twitter, PETA, who does not shy away from controversy and inciting anger in their opponents responded to the Doodle by criticizing Irwin. PETA accused him of “harassing” a stingray and “drag[ing]” exotic animals to conferences and talk shows where he “force[d] them to perform.” Immediately after making these comments, PETA was met with widespread backlash from some of Irwin’s many fans.

PETA vs. Pokémon

A few days later, PETA commented on the upcoming release of a new Pokémon game with a disturbing “parody” game called “Pokemon Black And Blue.” The objective of the game is to “help PETA free Pikachu and his Pokémon friends as they struggle for Pokémon liberation.” PETA’s apparent criticism of Pokémon drew more backlash online from both Pokémon fans and still bitter Steve Irwin supporters.

PETA Controversies


  • Does PETA kidnap and kill pets?
  • Does PETA kill animals?
  • Is PETA anti-pet?

PETA has been at the center of numerous controversies. These include controversial comparisons that the organization has made between the modern-day treatment of animals and atrocities such as the Holocaust, sexual violence against humans, and other sensitive issues.

Accusations about PETA killing pets and unnecessarily euthanizing animals usually refer to their policies on euthanasia. The organization faced significant backlash after two employees took a pet dog from a mobile home park and euthanized it. PETA later apologized for this, called it a mistake, and paid $49,000 to the dog’s family in a lawsuit. PETA shelters’ relatively high euthanasia rate is a source of controversy. PETA claims that this high rate is due to the fact that they take in animals that other no-kill shelters do not, often because they are sick, aggressive, or feral. While PETA asserts that they only euthanize “unadoptable” animals, opponents suggest that many of PETA’s euthanasias are unnecessary. 

PETA’s official stance on euthanasia is that “Until dog and cat overpopulation is brought under control through spaying and neutering, we must prevent the suffering of unwanted animals in the most responsible and humane way possible. Euthanasia, performed properly, is often the most compassionate option.”

The website is dedicated to spreading awareness about PETA’s high rates of euthanasia and supposed anti-pet agenda. According to PETA, they are not against pet keeping, but they are against pet breeding.

The backlash to PETA’s comments about Steve Irwin highlights the tension between the controversial organization and the internet at large. As it appears that PETA often intentionally stirs up controversy, their Tweet about Steve Irwin, and their refusal to apologize for it matches this pattern.


The way that so many people online joined together to drag PETA inspired a number of memes. Some memes included images of tweets from PETA criticizing Elon Musk for laughing at a picture of a dead deer, but no such tweet was actually posted by the organization.

A surprised Pikachu meme:

Someone apparently doctored PETA’s Wikipedia page, dissing the organization:

We have to defend Steve Irwin’s memory, PETA has gone too far. from r/memes

we must all unite to condemn PETA from r/dankmemes

Yeah yeah Peta bad and all that from r/dankmemes

The second beating, absolutely free! from r/memes