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Here’s To You, Steve-O!

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

irwin-turtle.jpgCrocodile Hunter was sort of a ritual in our house during third-year university. I believe it was on at 5 or 6 in the evening on Discovery Channel. James17930 and I, and sometimes Heather, would gather round the tv (the cable being siphoned from the poor chap upstairs) and watch as Steve Irwin wrestled with crocs or used sticks to tame wild cobras. Sarah would just roll her eyes. He was the archetypal Aussie, plunging headfirst from the back of a jeep into the outback, usually without shoes (I’m sure he would have left all his clothes at home had he been allowed) and investigating nature in the most dangerous, yet entertaining way possible. His manic glee was irresistible.

Here comes the airplane....

However, the act wore a bit thin after a while, and I haven’t watched the show in years, or the subsequent series, or the movie. And I’m sure the show’s seemingly spontaneous feel was in reality highly organized. The whole ‘stunt’ with him holding his infant son while feeding a large croc was going a bit too far. Nevertheless, Crocodile Hunter provided an interesting and unique peak into nature that has been copied many times since.

As most of you know, Irwin died on the weekend (Labour Day), killed by a stingray while filming part of his series about deadly underwater creatures. Apparently the stingray was startled by Irwin and his camera man, lashed out its tail and pierced Irwin through the heart. He was able to pull the tail out, but died almost instantly. This, by the way, is an extremely rare death. Stingrays do not tend to live up to their names, and very few people actually die from them.

Crikey! That's a big suckah

It’s very tempting to say that Irwin died doing what he loved doing, and that is indeed one way to make his death seem less futile. However, at the end of the day, he leaves behind his wife and two children, and his highly successful zoo, and that makes his death a sad one.

While many people will roll their eyes and say “he had it coming” (shedding ‘crocodile hunter tears,’ no doubt), and, maybe he did, it’s ironic that he met his end with one of the ocean’s ‘less dangerous’ underwater animals. I say we choose to remember Irwin for all his conservation work, and his efforts to save habitats in Australia and around the world. He was indeed a performer and an entertainer, but out of that his love for nature and all its creatures tumbled forth.

Here’s to you, Steve-O! Let’s hope you have as much fun in that great Outback in the sky as you did here on Earth. You won’t even have to wear any clothes.

nature lover


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