Bindi Irwin faces US backlash over SeaWorld ties

Bindi Irwin, seen here with her brother Robert, has caused a backlash in the US over her association with SeaWorld. Photo / APN
Bindi Irwin, seen here with her brother Robert, has caused a backlash in the US over her association with SeaWorld. Photo / APN

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, speaking of her father Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin, who died in 2006 from a stingray barb, said.

"That's why I'm thrilled to be empowering kids."

Bindi urged viewers to log into seaworldkids.com

"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."

The announcement set off an avalanche of angry Twitter posts, with one opponent, Amanda Holliday, Tweeting: "How much do you think #SeaWorld had to pay Bindi Irwin to try to fix their image?"

Another from Pat Fitzgerald read: "@BindiIrwin Have you seen #Blackfish? Please do not bring shame to your fathers name by colluding with #SeaWorld".

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, Gold Coast, theme park Sea World, has parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio.

- AAP

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