Friday, September 08, 2006

Crikey Mate! The Crocodile Hunter is Gone!

Steve Irwin, internationally renowned as Discover Channel’s The Crocodile Hunter, died Tuesday from being stung in the heart by a poisonous stingray. He was filming a series for Discovery’s Animal Planet titled “The Most Dangerous” when he accidentally came over the top of a stingray buried in the sand and was attacked as a result of the ray’s defense instincts. The stinger plunged up through his zyphoid process, where the diaphragm meets the breast bone, and pierced his heart. In a last futile effort, Steve was caught on tape wrenching the stinger out of his chest, but was paralyzed and possibly died almost instantly, leaving behind a wife, two young children who will grow up without a father, and the animals he cared for at Australia’s Zoo in Queensland.

“Being around nature is what I love,” said Steve in a TV interview a year ago, “it’s what these hands were born and bred to do.”

His energetic and passionate love of nature and wildlife gained him international celebrity status. He embodied what Aussies call the “True Blue,” and even though people in other countries couldn’t name the Prime Minister of Australia, they could name Steve Irwin. He did it all, he wrestled croc’s, handled poisonous snakes, dived in the most dangerous waters of the Great Barrier Reef, rehabilitated many animals (including a baby kangaroo), and educated a generation about the importance of environmental awareness.

My most memorable episode of The Crocodile Hunter series was where his dog, Suie, jumped out of their dingy (boat) to fight a wild boar and Steve had to jump out after them and separate them. So here’s this skinny guy in khaki shorts standing on a slippery slope of a croc infested river with a pit bull in one hand and a wild boar in the other! Crikey what a tough bloke!

Steve was many people’s hero, including my own. I remember watching his shows as a kid living in the San Gabriel Mountains. He had an amazing way with animals, much like my own interest in nature. I would go around picking up wild snakes and tracking actual wild coyotes through the forest and bringing home all varieties of injured animals (much to my poor mother’s dismay). I caught a wild burrowing rat once and was bitten to the bone, I remember my mother having to sit in the lobby with me all afternoon for a rabies shot, and the next day I was hand-feeding raccoons (which is disturbing nature in and of itself, I was 8). My dad will tell the story of how I chased a grizzly bear (usually it’s the bear chasing the person), and as recently as this month I rescued a seagull with a broken wing from the pool that I work at…I guess some things never change. Today, I am a biology major studying to be a video documentarian for National Geographic and make a career out of working with animals. I pursue this ambition that I decided I wanted to pursue at 11 years old because of the inspiration of Steve Irwin, and I’ll never forget that my enthusiasm started with him. I would not be pursuing it today if it weren’t for people like Steve who showed the world that our planet and the other things we share it with are not just “backburner issues.” I feel like I’ve lost my hero, and the world mourns with me.

Australia is talking about declaring his birthday a National Holiday. People from Guam to Albania have said they will celebrate that holiday, and my little brother and sister and I are no exception!

The fans will miss you Steve-O and the Croc’s will never forget you!


Blogger Shelly said...

I just wanted you to know that I really apprechiated your post on Steve. I wasn't able to put anything into words, but I felt a weight in my stomach ever since his death. Thank you :)

8:25 AM  
Blogger Nikki_Jilton said...

It was a good death. He died doing what he loved and I can only hope to live half as honorable of a life as he has.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

crikey mate i loved this dude bloody scotts i cant belive he is dead

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bloody hell i didnt even know he was dead.... he was my mate.... we hit the clubs pretty hard sometimes

10:17 AM  
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