Monday, September 04, 2006

The "Croc Hunter"

As I was driving to the office this morning (yes, Im taking care of a few things at the office on Labor Day), I heard on the radio that the famous Australian "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin died in a freak accident while filming on the Great Barrier Reef, stung in the heart by stingray barb.

I don't think my kids have heard about this yet. I think they will be very upset, but not especially shocked to hear this. The Kratt brothers (as in Zoboomafoo and Kratt's Creatures) always caution kids how important it is to give wild animals their space, not only for safety reasons, but out of respect for the dignity of the animals as well. This was not Irwin's approach.

I hadn't seen much of Steve Irwin, but I hate to say that I was always afraid that something like this might happen to him. It seemed to me that he took too many chances in pursuit of getting a good shot. Once we were on a family trip and we were watching his show on Animal Planet in a hotel room. Irwin was messing around with a hooded cobra, and let the snake spit its venom into his unprotected face, which he frantically washed out with a bottle of water (see some close calls here). Taken on another occasion, this video shows Irwin being bitten on the hand by a cobra (Correction... This was some other guy named Austin Stevens.) I wouldn't want my kids to imitate such behavior with animals, but I think they recognized the Australian bravado and bombast as being part of Irwin's whole appeal.

Still, he seemed like a very warm personality and to have had genuine interest in the appreciation and preservation of wildlife. His death is tragic. He was only 44, and is survived by a wife and two young children. My prayers go out to them. Crystal has a nice post about Steve Irwin here.


crystal said...


Nice postt. It's true, he was always taking chances and he was in trouble a couple of times, I think, for disrupting wildlife habitats with his filming. But it was hard not to like him - he was so enthusiastic and seemed to genuinely care about animals, as you said.

Jeff said...

HI Crystal,

I did like him ("Crikey!"), and although it may be inappropriate to throw a little humor into this situation, you never saw old Marlon Perkins on Mutual Of Omaha's Wild Kindom ever taking chances like that. He always stayed safely ensconsed in his studio, while he blithely narrated what Jim was up to. "As you can see, Jim is wrestling with this two-ton water buffalo...".