Just days after Bindi Irwin, daughter to the late wildlife expert Steve Irwin, took to Good Morning America to announce a new partnership with SeaWorld, her grandfather, naturalist and conservationist Bob Irwin, has weighed in on his website for his foundation, the Bob Irwin Wildlife and Conservation Foundation. In a clear jab at SeaWorld, Irwin blasted the "use of captive animals for the performance of tricks with the intent of mere entertainment for financial gain."
Irwin said that neither he nor his foundation had any knowledge of this partnership prior to the media announcement. He also said that he is "aware of the controversy regarding the treatment of killer whales that has come to light with the release of the ‘Blackfish' documentary." While the statement was carefully worded, Irwin said that he does not support the use of animals in entertainment:
My personal stance is that any organization that keeps animals in captivity that does not consider and provide for that animal's physical, mental and emotional needs should not be keeping that animal and other solutions should be sought out. The Bob Irwin Wildlife & Conservation Foundation Inc. and I do not support the use of captive animals for the performance of tricks with the intent of mere entertainment for financial gain.
Irwin also invoked the work of his son, Steve Irwin:
My son fought tirelessly for the welfare of animals and for educating the public about conservation. Steve had a big heart for wildlife, and where he saw injustice and cruelty, he spoke out.
Steve and I were as one on the issues of animal welfare, community education and engagement in conservation. I can only hope that this partnership between SeaWorld and my granddaughter, who has followed in Steve's footsteps, results in the best possible outcomes for the welfare of all animals held in captive facilities around the world.
According to the Guardian, in 2008, Irwin parted ways with the Australia Zoo amidst reports of a family feud over the way Terri, the widow of Steve Irwin, had been commercializing the family's animal empire.