Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin

Stephen Robert "Steve" Irwin (February 22, 1962 – September 4, 2006) was an Australian naturalist, wildlife expert and television personality. He was best known for the television program The Crocodile Hunter, an unconventional wildlife documentary series broadcasted worldwide and hosted with his wife Terri; the program gave him his nickname.

Born to Lyn and Bob Irwin in Essendon, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Irwin moved with his parents as a child to Queensland in 1970. Irwin was a reptile enthusiast and when the family moved, his parents started the small Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, where Irwin grew up around crocodiles and other reptiles.

Irwin became involved with the park in a number of ways, including taking part in daily animal feedings, as well as care and maintenance activities. On his sixth birthday he was given a scrub python. He began handling crocodiles at the age of 9, after his father had educated him on reptiles from an early age. He became a crocodile trapper, removing crocodiles from near populated areas, performing the service for free with the quid pro quo that he kept them for the park. Irwin followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a volunteer for the Queensland Government's East Coast Crocodile Management program.

The park was a family run business until it was turned over to Irwin in 1991. He took over the running of the park, now called the Australia Zoo, and in 1992 met (at the park) and married Terri. The footage, shot by John Stainton, of their crocodile-trapping honeymoon became the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter, which became wildly successful in the United States and the UK. His exuberant and enthusiastic presenting style, broad Australian accent, constant wearing of khakis and catch-phrase "Crikey!" became known worldwide: The Crocodile Hunter aired in over 120 countries.

Under Irwin's expansive leadership, the operations grew to include the zoo, the television series, the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, and International Crocodile Rescue. Improvements to the Australia Zoo include the Animal Planet Crocoseum, the rainforest aviary, and Tiger Temple. Irwin mentioned that he was considering opening an Australia Zoo in Las Vegas and possibly other sites around the world.

In 2001, Irwin appeared in a cameo role in the Eddie Murphy film Dr. Dolittle 2. In 2002, his first and only feature film, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, was released. In general, reviews of this film were negative. Irwin portrayed himself, in addition to performing numerous stunts for the film. The film follows Irwin who mistakes some CIA agents for poachers. He sets out to stop them from capturing a crocodile, who, unknown to him, has actually swallowed a tracking drone. The film won the Best Family Feature Film award for a comedy film at the Young Artist Awards. The film was produced on a budget of around $13,000,000. The film took in just over three times its budget. In 2003 Irwin was reportedly in line to host a chat show on Australian network television, a series that never went into production.

Animal Planet released a "Crocodile Hunter" special called "Crocodiles & Controversy," which attempted to explain some incidents behind Irwin's controversies. This special argues that Irwin's son was never in danger of being eaten by the crocodile, and that Irwin could not have endangered animals in Antarctica.

Animal Planet ended The Crocodile Hunter with a series finale entitled "Steve's Last Adventure." The last Crocodile Hunter documentary went for three emotional hours with footage of Irwin's across-the-world adventure, visiting locations like the Himalayas, the Yangtze River, Borneo, and the Kruger National Park. Irwin went on to star in other Animal Planet documentaries, including The Croc Files, The Crocodile Hunter Diaries, and New Breed Vets.

In January 2006 as part of Australia Week celebrations in the USA, Irwin appeared at the Pauley Pavilion, UCLA in Los Angeles, California. During an interview on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Irwin announced that Discovery Kids would be developing a show for his daughter, Bindi Sue. The show, Jungle Girl, was tipped to be similar to The Wiggles movies, with songs that surround a story. A feature-length episode of Australian kids TV show The Wiggles entitled "Wiggly Safari" appears dedicated to Irwin, and he's featured in it heavily with his wife and daughter. The show includes the song "Crocodile Hunter, Big Steve Irwin".

In 2006, the American network The Travel Channel had begun to show a series of specials starring Irwin and his family as they traveled on cross-country tours.

Irwin was an open supporter of the conservative Liberal Party of Australia. In particular, he strongly supported the incumbent Prime Minister John Howard, describing him once as "the greatest leader Australia has ever had" and the "greatest leader in the entire world"; comments which drew a cynical reaction in the national media.

Irwin was also involved in several media campaigns. He was employed by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service to promote Australia's strict quarantine/customs requirements, with advertisements and posters featuring slogans such as, "Quarantine Matters! Don't muck with it" [do not contravene its rules].

In 2004 he was appointed ambassador for The Ghan, an Adelaide to Darwin train that began operations in 2004. For some time he was sponsored by Toyota, in keeping with his rugged outback image.

He was also a keen promoter for Australian tourism in general and Queensland tourism in particular. In 2002 the Australia Zoo was voted Queensland's top tourist attraction. His immense popularity in the US meant he often promoted Australia as a tourist destination there.

In 2001 Irwin was awarded the Centenary Medal for his "service to global conservation and to Australian tourism". In 2004 he was recognised as Tourism Export of the Year. Also in 2004, he was nominated for Australian of the Year, which was won by Steve Waugh. Doubts were cast over his nomination when the "baby Bob" incident occurred in January that year.

Irwin was a passionate conservationist and believed in promoting environmentalism by sharing his excitement about the natural world rather than preaching to people. He was concerned with conservation of endangered animals and land clearing leading to loss of habitat. He considered conservation to be the most important part of his work: "I consider myself a wild-life warrior. My mission is to save the world's endangered species." Irwin bought "large tracts of land" in Australia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the United States, which he described as "like national parks" and stressed the importance of people realising that they could each make a difference.

He had urged people to take part in considerate tourism and not support illegal poaching through the purchase of items such as turtle shells, or shark-fin soup:

"These Hitlers use the camouflage of science to make money out of animals... So whenever they murder our animals and call it sustainable use, I'll fight it. Since when has killing a wild animal, eating it or wearing it, ever saved a species?

There are people who butt out their cigarettes in gorilla-paw ashtrays, with wastepaper baskets that were once elephant feet, who have ivory ornaments… who wear cheetah fur. Don't buy these things! Then there'll be no market and the animals won't be killed.

We have domesticated livestock raised for consumption and perfectly good fake leather and fur, so why must we kill wild animals to satisfy the macabre taste of some rich person?"

He founded the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, which was later renamed Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, and became an independent charity. He was described after his death by the CEO of RSPCA Queensland as a "modern-day Noah", and British naturalist David Bellamy lauded his skills as a natural historian and media performer. Irwin discovered a new species of turtle that now bears his name, Elseya irwini — Irwin's Turtle — a type of snapping turtle found on the coast of Queensland.

He also helped to found a number of other projects, such as the International Crocodile Rescue, as well as the Lyn Irwin Memorial Fund, in memory of his mother, with proceeds going to the Iron Bark Station Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

Irwin cultivated an image as an "Aussie larrikin", making liberal use of Australian slang (such as his catchcry, "Crikey!") in a very broad Australian accent. His unabashed enthusiasm for dangerous animals and childlike energy sometimes made him appear simple, which initially drew some criticism at home. He expressed disappointment at times for media criticism, believing he was being targeted due to a cultural cringe.

Regardless of local opinion, his media personage was very popular worldwide but especially in the U.S., akin to another great international Australian success — Paul Hogan as "Crocodile Dundee" in the 1980s.

His friends and family often reported that he was to them as he was to the rest of the world — larger than life.

Due to his memorable persona, numerous parodies of Irwin exist, including appearances in Irregular Webcomic!, The Basil Brush Show, It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, the Flash cartoon On The Moon, The Simpsons, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the webcomic PvP, and South Park's Prehistoric Ice Man episode, among others.

In 1992, Irwin married Terri Raines from Eugene, Oregon in the United States. The pair had met a few months earlier when Terri had visited the zoo on a holiday. Together they had two children: a daughter, Bindi Sue Irwin (born 24 July 1998), and a son, Robert Clarence "Bob" Irwin (born 1 December 2003). Bindi Sue is jointly named after two of Steve's favorite animals: Bindi (a saltwater crocodile) and Sui (dog), who died in June 2004.

Irwin was as enthusiastic about his family as he was about his work. He once described his daughter Bindi as "the reason he was put on the Earth". His wife Terri once said, "The only thing that could ever keep him away from the animals he loves are the people he loves even more."

Major controversy arose during a public show on 2 January 2004, when Irwin carried his infant son, Bob, in one arm while feeding a chicken carcass to a crocodile with the other hand. The infant was close to the crocodile, and comparisons were made in the press to Michael Jackson's dangling of his son outside a German hotel window. In addition, child welfare groups, animal rights groups, and many of Irwin's television viewers criticised his actions as being irresponsible and tantamount to child abuse. Irwin claimed that any danger to his son was only a perceived danger and that he was in complete control of the situation, and consistently refused to apologise for his actions despite considerable public outcry both in Australia and abroad. His defenders pointed to his many decades of hands-on experience and direct interaction with crocodiles, as well as his well-known devotion to his responsibilities as a father. Terri Irwin claimed that their child was in no more real danger than a child being taught to swim would be. No charges were filed (although the police did visit Irwin at his home and advised him not to repeat the incident).

The incident prompted the Queensland government to change its crocodile-handling laws, banning children and untrained adults from entering crocodile enclosures. In June 2004, allegations were made that he came too close to and disturbed some wildlife (namely whales, seals and penguins) while filming a documentary, Ice Breaker, in Antarctica. Subsequently, the matter was closed without charges being filed.

Shortly after 11:00am local time on 4 September 2006, Irwin was fatally pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while diving in Queensland's Batt Reef, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef. The events were caught on camera and the footage is now in the possession of Queensland Police. Irwin was in the area filming his own documentary, to be called The Ocean's Deadliest, but weather had stalled filming. Irwin decided to take the opportunity to film some shallow water shots for a segment in the television program his daughter Bindi was hosting, when, according to his friend and colleague John Stainton, he swam too close to one of the animals, which have a venomous barb on their tails. "He came on top of the stingray and the stingray's barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Stainton, who was on board Irwin's boat at the time.

After reviewing the footage of the incident and speaking to the cameraman who recorded it, marine documentary filmmaker and fisherman Ben Cropp speculated that the stingray "felt threatened because Steve was alongside and there was the cameraman ahead..." In such a case, the animal responds by automatically flexing the serrated barb on its tail, which is up to 25 centimeters (roughly 10 inches) in length. "He came over the top of a stingray that was buried in the sand, and the barb came up and hit him in the chest," Stainton said. Wildlife documentary maker Ben Cropp, citing a colleague who saw footage of the attack, told that Irwin had accidentally boxed the animal in. "It stopped and twisted and threw up its tail with the spike, and it caught him in the chest," said Ben Cropp. "It's a defensive thing. It's like being stabbed with a dirty dagger." The Bull Ray[citation needed] that stung Irwin was "a one-in-a-million thing," Cropp told Time magazine. "I have swum with many rays, and I have only had one do that to me." In this case, the motion struck Irwin's chest and pierced his heart. This was only the third known fatality in Australian history from a stingray attack, and only 17 have taken place since 1996.

Crewmembers aboard his boat called emergency services in the nearest city of Cairns and administered CPR as they rushed the boat to nearby Low Isle to meet a rescue helicopter. Medical staff pronounced Irwin dead when they arrived a short time later. Autopsy identified that the stingray had badly damaged both the left atrium of the heart and the left ventricle which caused a great deal of stress for the heart and caused him to go into cardiac arrest.

The Queensland Police Service notified his family and released a statement for the media concerning his death. News of his death prompted a public outpouring expressing shock and loss. Several Australian news websites went down because of high web traffic and talk-back radio experienced a high volume of callers expressing their grief, commemorating his passion and exuberance. Prime Minister John Howard, among many other politicians, expressed his "shock and distress" at the death, saying that "Australia has lost a wonderful and colourful son." Irwin's body was flown to a morgue in Cairns, where stunned family and friends were gathering on Monday night. His wife Terri was informed of her husband's death while on a walking tour in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in Tasmania, and returned via private plane from Devonport to the Sunshine Coast with their two children.

# Irwin was a great fan of the Singapore Zoo, which he considered a sister institution of the Australia Zoo.

# Irwin loved mixed martial arts competitions and trained with Greg Jackson in the fighting/grappling system of Gaidojutsu.

# Irwin appeared in a 2006 ESPN television commercial in their This is SportsCenter series. In the commercial, he wrestled Albert E. Gator, the University of Florida's mascot, to the ground in an ESPN studio hallway.

# In 2004, during an interview with Larry King, he admitted that after receiving many painful bites he had a fear of parrots.

# Irwin was a fan of the Essendon Bombers in the Australian Football League, Essendon being where he grew up as a child. Irwin made several appearances with players and was part of an Australian rules football promotion in Los Angeles as part of Australia week in early 2006.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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