— The 8-year-old daughter of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, who was killed by a stingray, is to follow in her father’s footsteps by starring in a new TV series, sparking a debate about whether the youngster is being exploited.
From early next year Bindi Irwin will star in a 26-part series on Discovery Kids network, with the working title "Bindi, the Jungle Girl."
A spokeswoman for Discovery, Annie Howell, said the wildlife documentary started several months ago as a show with Irwin and his daughter and would include scenes between the youngster and her father, the exuberant, khaki-clad Australian naturalist.
"It was something that they were really enthusiastic about," Howell told Reuters. But some critics have raised concerns that the youngster is being thrown in the spotlight too soon after her father’s death.
Australian politician, Sen. Bill Heffernan, was reported in the Australian press to have told colleagues in a private meeting in Canberra that he feared the youngster would not be allowed to grow up normally.
Howell, however, defended the decision to continue with the series, saying the network was respecting the decision of Irwin’s U.S.-born wife Terri.
"After his death Terri had to make a decision. Did she want Bindi to continue working? Did she want her to continue doing this show? And she really left it up to Bindi, with her guidance of course," said Howell.
"They decided this was a really healing process for her and are moving on."
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