September 04, 2006
STEVE IRWIN, who has died during underwater filming aged 44 after a stingray barb pierced his heart, was known through his documentaries on the cable TV channel Animal Planet to some 500 million people in more than 120 countries. As the exuberant, golden-haired, khaki-wearing and apparently fearless Crocodile Hunter, he got very close to Â— and even wrestled Â— numerous apex predators. His unscripted narration was punctuated with Â“Crikey!Â” and Â“ Look at this beauty!Â” Many called him a thrill seeker, but he called himself a wildlife warrior. He was in fact a highly knowledgeable natural historian, whose mission was to educate people by enthusing them. Â“If you canÂ’t get wilds into peopleÂ’s heartsÂ”, he said, Â“then we havenÂ’t got a hope in heck of saving them Â— because people donÂ’t want to save something they donÂ’t know.Â”
Irwin owned land in Australia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the US. He was a fan of Essendon in the Australian Football League, and loved mixed martial arts competitions. He supported the conservative Liberal Party, and once described the Prime Minister, John Howard, as the Â“greatest leader in the entire worldÂ”. Howard returned the favour on hearing of IrwinÂ’s death, calling him Â“the genuine article . . . he took risks, he enjoyed life, but he brought immense joy to millions of people, particularly to childrenÂ”. Among IrwinÂ’s legacies is Elseya irwini, a new type of snapping turtle he discovered on the coast of Queensland. He was named Tourism Export of the Year in 2004.
Condolences can be left on Animal Planet's website
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