I know it sounds silly, but I am so sad about Croc Hunter

seekingadviceSeptember 5, 2006

and I can't seem to get it into my head that he's dead. I don't usually have such a sense of loss about celebrities. Maybe it's because my little girls have been watching the Crocodile Hunter/Wiggles video (Wiggly Safari) for the past several years and he seems like a friend. Maybe it's my 6-year-old's endless questions about his death and how sad it must be for his little girl and boy not to have a daddy now etc. Maybe it was his ebullience and love of animals. Maybe it was just that sparkly charisma of his that always made me smile even while shaking my head at some of his antics.

Anyway, just wanted to pay a small tribute to Steve Irwin. G'day, Mate!

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It is very sad.

He was a man who clearly loved his life, his work, and his family. And that love, that enthusiasm, was a joy to behold.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 11:28PM
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I'm with you. I normally do not internalize celebrity deaths/weddings, etc, but this one really hit me hard.

Our family has watched him for years. I'm truly very upset over his death.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 10:55AM
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I don't think it's silly at all. It would be like if Jacques Cousteau stepped off a curb at the wrong time when we were children (dating myself?), except even worse because of Steve's unique spirit.

And the worst part of it for me is his children. From the outside, I just *can't* imagine what Bindi is feeling. Did you hear the one little anecdote she told onscreen on one of the AP shows where she saw her Daddy with red coming out of the side of his eye--she screramed "OH NO, DADDDYYYY!" and he was joking -- it was just catsup. You could tell that even though the episode happened sometime in the past, she was still able to summon up the emotions pretty easily-- she must have been really upset at the sight of blood on her Hero. She must have been chronically stressed, in a constant state of vigilance for him once she realized what he did, and the sight of even the possibility of an injury was enough to set her fears right off.

He was such a mensch, just a good guy, not pretentious, not particularly grownup or sophisticated :) (did you see the scene when Terri was giving birth and he tromped in there with a full male camera crew? She said "couldn't you pick up a few more guys, maybe some hitchhikers or something?")...He wanted to be remembered for enthusiasm and passion for wildlife. And he happened to be one of the most knowledgeable, self-and family-and-experience-taught (in other words, unschooled) reptile-people (can't remember the word) in the world.

When someone that pure of heart leaves the world too soon, it is bound to hurt.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 12:32PM
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Seeking, I am very sad about his death too. On the cooking forum in discussions, there is a thread about him as well. I found it interesting to read some of the comments over there. Whatever people think, I'm still p-o'd that so much footage is being played of him tempting a croc with his baby in the other arm. I certainly wouldn't want to be remembered for the stupid things I did

Here is a link that might be useful: Steve Irwin is dead

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 3:20PM
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I feel bad for his family. And to think they thought they were just shooting some "soft pieces" for children's shows. What a shame.

I do agree with a lot of what has been said on the cooking forum. I have something of a background in wildlife conservation (in a previous life, lol) and what Steve Irwin did on t.v. was not conservation, but rather antagonism. I'm not familiar with his work behind the scenes, though, and he did seem like a genuinely nice guy. My heart goes out to his children.

A truly selfless wildlife hero worth celebrating is Jane Goodall, who has worked tirelessly on chimpanzee research, conservation generally and animal rights issues. On her website she posted a list of her five greatest heroes - - all conservationists who achieved great things but with little recognition(link below). Apparently there was a show on Animal Planet about it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jane Goodall Institute link

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 4:39PM
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What gets me is that it wouldn't have surprised me if he'd been bitten by a dangerous snake like a cobra, or one of the kraits native to Australia, or if he'd gotten a little too close to a croc or alligator in a bad mood. But the WAY he died is what shocked me. Stingrays are usually docile creatures, and as much as he'd tempted fate with TRULY dangerous animals and came away unscathed, the fact that he perished by a stingray barb to the heart was completely shocking. My heart goes out to his family and friends. When it's your time, ...

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 5:29PM
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That's what I think, Bill...it was completely chance, he wasn't provoking it...

Jane had her issues too, as much as I love her--talk about wanting to get close to the animals--she's just lucky David Greybeard took to her the way he did. She wasn't aggressive, though. (One of the heroes, the high-school-age guy, lives in our town! :))

Remember, one amazing thing about Steve Irwin and his dad is that they were fighting for the rights of crocodiles to *live* rather than be killed when caught, which was the norm when they started out. They created a *relocation* service rather than an extermination service. That in itself is a serious conservation effort and should not be forgotten in the rush to kick him now that he's down. I never once doubted his motives; his tactics? well, from time to time, definitely. But his motives? Never.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 6:18PM
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Fly, Jane's lack of aggression was my point. She made every attempt to "blend" when she was with the chimps rather than provoking them to show them off for the cameras. For some time she did feed them bananas to get them closer to her camp, but later decided that was a bad practice as it was changing their behavior. IMO that was the right decision. Observation (and/or filming) with as little interference as possible is the best way to study animals.

I do understand the rationale that was behind Steve's way of doing things (make it exciting and people will watch and become interested in conservation), but I don't think it justified his typical treatment of individual animals.

And for the record, I'm not kicking him when he's down. I felt this way and vocalized it when he was alive as well. I think he had a good heart and he did a lot of good in his life, but I didn't always agree with his tactics. It's healthy to keep some perspective when we look at the course of a person's life.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 7:49PM
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But the WAY he died is what shocked me. Stingrays are usually docile creatures, and as much as he'd tempted fate with TRULY dangerous animals

Not to quote myself, but my wife and I were just watching Entertainment Tonight, and they showed film of him BEARHUGGING a small white shark off the stern of a boat!! Some of the unbelieveable stuff he did went way beyond mere danger. Kathleen and I were discussing it and we both came to the same conclusion-- no doubt about it-- it was his time.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 8:55PM
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paige, I agree re Jane Goodall and the lack of aggression...one other point is that her time was pre-mass-media-generation, after all, and her atmosphere was completely different...but I am not advocating his tactics at all--believe me, I cringed every time he said "Crikey that made him angry!" about some animal he'd just treated like a demonstration model...I'm just thinking that it's important to remember the good he did despite all the obvious less-than-desirable...I guess *that's* the healthy balance I'm thinking about right now. Or maybe a kind balance. Let the man have some time and respect for the arc of his whole life, which has come to a very sad and abrupt end. Then pick his methods apart in a while. I mean, his family were plumbers who just started a reptile park after saving hurt wildlife. So blue-collar, not academics, just folks. A whole different background from associating with Louis Leakey, iykwim.

I don't know. I just see a whole lot less respect for his passing, a man who was basically good hearted, if rough, than I do for that of some world leaders who were evil to their very core and deserve way more honest excoriation than they have received.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 12:43AM
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Sorry, Fly, the lawyer in me can't let this one point go - - Jane was also not an academic. It's been awhile since I read her first book, but I think she may have been waitressing to earn money for her passage to Africa, where she "happened" (i.e., made sure) to meet Louis Leakey. If I remember correctly, she had a college degree but not a doctorate when she began her studies. That's why it took her awhile to figure out some of the better scientific practices (like not feeding bananas).

Have you had your daughter read any of Jane's books? She also has an environmental educational program called Roots and Shoots that is popular among homeschoolers. There is info about it on her website.

I do understand what you're saying about Steve Irwin, but I think the press I've read has been pretty balanced so far.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 7:36AM
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The man did his best to save wildlife, rather than decimate it. But he was human. IOW, he had his faults. Don't let that cloud the good that he did.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 9:28AM
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Sorry for crashing the party, guys, but I truly did see Irwin as an educator - and in many ways, for *mass* public consumption, a better educator than others, even by many metrics, Jane Goodall. Jane and Steve were not the same sort of thing at all - no more than an electrical engineer is interchangeable with an aeronautical engineer. Steve, in addition to being a conservationist aka wild animal park owner/zoo-keeper, was an educator (i.e. educating the masses about animals at large). Jane was an animal behaviourist and truly studied animals. To the extent that what she learned could be applied to wild-animal conservation, she was a conservationist. To the extent that you wanted to learn about animal behaviours (not quite the same thing as someone who watches TV shows), she was an educator.

Steve's methods - including provoking the animals - did MORE to show the masses that animals are unpredictable, can be dangerous when provoked, and can easily be accidentally (by you) provoked, than did coverage of the more serious study. I agree with him in his various interviews that some of those who have loved wildlife and wild animals the most have done the most damage when their investigations were put in the public's eye.

How many people keep dangerous or endangered animals as "pets"? By every account it is because they've seen the scientists, circus trainers, and zoo-keepers draw out animals and show them connecting with them. Now, in truth, there was decades of study and learning that went into that communication. BUT people have seen the soft, cuddly side of hanging onto the side of a cheetah or a python - or you know what? even foxes, big dogs , and small monkeys - and decided that they can be related to.

What was the bottom line with any of Steve's shows? Not the rabid dancing around bit but that animals can be provoked and can be very dangerous.

There is a HUGE illegal industry in wild animal trafficking and it is fueled by this idea that the public has that if one person can be with a rare species, then so can another. This illegal trafficking in animals is doing nothing to help conservation and preservation efforts.

Steve DID know how to handle animals, so he managed to waltz out of there. Those were most awfully dangerous animals he dealt with - you don't two-step with them and get out lucky for over forty years.

Paige and flyleft, I'm not trying to contravene in entirety the text of what you say. The joe-blow Steve Irwin was aiming his messages to not get anacondas and tarantulas and seville monkeys as pets are NOT the sort of people who read Goodall or Leakey (I thought his name was spelled Leachey but I see I'm wrong). But they are the sort who buy tarantulas and seville monkeys and then get tired when these things don't want to adapt to a messy suburban american home.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 10:53AM
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Morning, paige :)

I didn't mean she was an academic in terms of having learned everything before she went to Africa in school--although she got her Ph.D. in 1965, pretty early on--did Steve even have a college degree? I am *fully* aware that she wasn't big on institutional learning, though--I'm a *homeschooler*, after all, and we have our heroes :) What I meant was that she practiced in a much more academic atmosphere; to me it's clear that the environment in Leakey's research studies was different from the environment around Steve's Dad, who was his main influence. She swam in a completely different pool, IMO. Leakey was an anthropologist. Steve's Dad was a plumber who wanted to save animals.

And thanks, I'm aware of Roots & Shoots, although we didn't start one here, we started a different kind of conservation group (Earth Scouts, affiliated with the Earth Charter--are you familiar with it?). And we've got several of her books.

mindstorm, I agree with you on the difference in audiences and Steve's general ability with dangerous animals. Just wanted to add I'm glad to see Jane Goodall start to get more populist-focused in her later years, with the kind of baton-passing "Heroes" effort and traveling exhibits like "Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees", which toured science museums at least in this country, maybe elsewhere. I think they both had in common the desire to make people know more about animals that are at risk *because of us* (e.g. the chimps as bush meat, or just as nuisances like the crocs) so we can realize they're beings worthy of respect and even affection (from a distance) -- as he said, we protect what we love.

I wonder if Animal Planet would have become the amazing educational resource it is without him. Sometimes it takes a showman to attract people at first; he was the showman.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 11:57AM
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Amen to that. I was thinking the same thing while I was reading yours and mindstorm's posts. That if he didn't act the fool that he did, would people have paid as much attention? And if not, he certainly wouldn't have made as big a POSITIVE impact as he did. My hat's off to the man. With all the morons young kids today see as idols and heroes, this guy was a breath of fresh air.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2006 at 4:54PM
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Sorry I haven't replied since I posted this! I crashed my computer and my old laptop kept freezing up when I tried to post my thoughts (too long-winded!). $250 later, I'm up and running again.

I want to thank mindstorm for that thoughtful response which echoes my sentiments. Steve Irwin appealed to the masses because he was a "regular guy" in people's minds. He never tried to be anything else, which I think was a big part of his success. People could relate to him. How many people? Try 200 million, an incredible testament to his ability to capture the attention of folks everywhere. I think a lot of people came away from his shows with a deeper respect for nature, a different perception of "nasty" creatures and just maybe saw a bit of the beauty that Steve pointed out with awe. I don't for a moment wish to downplay the importance of the work of Sir David Attenborough or Jane Goodall, but it is noteworthy that Steve Irwin was much more successful at reaching the majority and therefore at precipitating change. As Jonathan Swift discovered, if you really want to initiate reform, you must find a means to get people to listen.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 2:21AM
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Well, as an Aussie we are all in shock here. Breaking news here is that one of a race car legends Peter Brock has been killed today too.

Sort makes you feel like your world is changing.

My DD was sad for Steve's DD- they are both 8. She said she couldn't imagine losing her daddy.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 2:37AM
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Jane's been doing the "populist" thing for quite some time now. She handed over day-to-day control of the research at Gombe a long time ago and started working the public and the politicians. I worked for her about 10 years ago for a while and she never spent more than a few days in any one location (aside from a couple of weeks at Gombe and a couple of weeks in England with her mother here and there) - - she constantly traveled the world trying to spread her messages of conservation, animal rights and public service. I don't know if she is still keeping up that strenuous schedule but I wouldn't doubt it.
Lena and others:
I agree that Steve was more effective at reaching the masses, and this was largely because of the thrill of watching him in dangerous situations. However, I'm not convinced of the relative benefits of his educational message. OK, so he convinced people in their living rooms around the world that crocodiles should not be eradicated. But does it matter a whole lot whether someone in Ohio believes that? Isn't it more important to make a local impact in that respect? I know, he did that as well (at least with respect to crocodiles), but IMO he could have done so without jumping all over them on t.v. just for the showmanship of it.

In the beginning, didn't his show focus on actually being sent out to catch and relocate dangerous animals? Now that I can understand, because he's actually benefitting the animal in the end. But catching them just to show off for cameras reflects a certain lack of respect for the animal IMO.

For me, it's a question of quality over quantity. He may have reached more people, but I don't think the message he carried had the anywhere near the level of respect for the natural world that other naturalists are actively trying to cultivate.

Furthermore, adding a "do as I say, not as I do" caveat to his exploits did not, IMO, counteract the implicit message that tough guys mess with dangerous animals. If you've ever been to Yellowstone or somewhere like it, you saw that there was always one (or more) in a crowd who had to push the limits, getting foolishly close to the animals. This put the animal in a bad situation as well as the other observers. While people did this before Steve's show came out, I doubt it could be said that his actions did anything to discourage this type of behavior.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2006 at 10:21AM
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Did anyone hear that about 14 dead and dismembered stingrays have been found in Australia since this incident? This is exactly what Steve would not have wanted. People are so barbaric.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 2:35PM
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Oh, proudmama, I just heard about that. Of all the ways to express grief, why choose one that dishonors the person's memory? It goes against everything Steve Irwin stood for, sigh. How very idiotic.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 3:53PM
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My wife forwarded this to me this evening:


Endless visions fill my head - this man - as large as life
And instantly my heart mourns for his angels and his wife
Because the way I see Steve Irwin - just put everything aside
It comes back to his family - it comes back to his pride
His animals inclusive - Crikey - light the place with love!
Shine his star with everything he fought to rise above
The crazy-man of Khaki from the day he left the pouch
Living out his dream and in that classic 'Stevo' crouch
Exploding forth with character and redefining cheek
It's one thing to be honoured as a champion unique
It's one thing to have microphones and spotlight cameras shoved
It's another to be taken in and genuinely loved
But that was where he had it right - I guess he always knew
From his fathers' modest reptile park and then Australia Zoo
We cringed at times and shook our heads - but true to natures call
There was something very Irwin in the make up of us all
Yes the more I care to think of it - the more he had it right
If you're going to make a difference - make it big and make it bright!
Yes - he was a lunatic! Yes - he went head first!
But he made the world feel happy with his energetic burst
A world so large and loyal that it's hard to comprehend
I doubt we truly count the warmth until life meets an end
To count it now I say a prayer with words of inspiration
May the spotlight shine forever on his dream for conservation
My daughter broke the news to me - my six year old in tears
It was like she'd just turned old enough to show her honest fears
I tried to make some sense of it but whilst her Dad was trying
His little girl explained it best.she said "The crocodiles are crying"
Their best mate's up in heaven now - the crocs up there are smiling!
And as sure as flowers, poems and cards and memories are piling
As sure as we'll continue with the trademarks of his spiel
Of all the tributes worthy - he was rough.but he was real
As sure as 'Crikey!' fills the sky
I think we'll miss ya Steve.goodbye

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 10:37PM
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Wow, Bill, that was GREAT! It really expresses my own feelings so well, and that of millions of others, I'd guess. I saw some pictures and an article on my homepage about the funeral--so sad. I have read and understood the sentiments of those who disagree with Steve's methods, but it simply doesn't impact my own profound admiration and love for the guy. Isn't that funny? As much as a part of me might agree with the arguments, emotionally I just don't care. I truly think he was a guy who did what he did out of love and admiration and because it was a genuine part of his makeup. The saddest thing is to have someone like that for a loved one because you always know that disaster is lurking in the wings. I am so sorry for his wife, especially, and his children too.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 1:32PM
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Bill and seeking, that was read at Steve's memorial service at the Australia Zoo, which was carried by Animal Planet. It may air again, but I'm not sure; it was airing a lot this past week. I was utterly amazed at Bindi's composure and delivery of her memorial to her Dad. Just unreal. It was like she was saying "it's all right, I'm going to keep doing what he did, I understand what he did and I'm committed to it". And she'll be good at it too, if she wants to be. She kept it together the whole time, whereas all the grownups lost it at one point or another.

I was also happy to learn about Steve's many off-camera serious scientific involvements, like helping researchers by attaching satellite trackers to saltwater crocodiles to be able to track their movements. He also worked to preserve habitat for endangered animals (created the idea of private nature reserve in Australia by buying a significant amount of land that was slated to be developed and replanted it; it's now chock full of koalas etc.), worked to protect elephants in Asia, and I can't remember how many other efforts...one speaker said he was much more involved off camera than on. What an amazing force.

I think many people would love to be able to say we had a life that devoted and fulfilled, and accomplished that much for what we loved.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2006 at 4:46PM
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Steve Irwin's memorial service was truly touching . . .
I'd heard about how moving it was, and was checking the listings to try to find a repeat of it, but never did . .

However, I did find it on the ABC website . . .
under Jimmy Kimmel message boards . . .
As of today, it's about on Page 5, under Steve Irwin's Memorial . . . has it in its' entirety . .

Very moving . . .

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 10:16AM
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Did anyone see Terri Irwin interviewed by Barbara Walters last night? Oh my gosh, I just sobbed...such a lovely love story and so moving...

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 1:57AM
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I wish I had seen it, rosewest. I did read some excerpts of the interview and you're right, it was so moving! I just about lost it when I read that little Bob had been found by his mom taking a screwdriver or something to a motorbike, and when she asked him what he was doing, he told her he was fixing it so Daddy could ride from heaven. OMG!

Thank you for the site information, Chris!!

I was so happy to read that Discovery is going forward with Bindi's animal show for kids.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 12:07AM
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It was tough. Especially the part about her son getting the screwdriver. I'm actually a little ticked at "Babs" for interviewing her so soon. That poor woman was not ready for that.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 10:06PM
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