Steve Irwin : The Crocodile Hunter


Australian naturalist Steve Irwin was famous for getting up close and personal with his deadly subjects. He leapt fearlessly on to the backs of man-eating crocodiles, wrestled Komodo Dragons and deftly juggled snakes as they sought to plunge their venomous fangs into his arm or face, all the while keeping up a lively commentary for the cameras of his multimillion-dollar documentary operation. Scratched, bitten and bruised, he would display his wounds like trophies, casually using gaffer tape to bind up a severe bite from a large saltwater crocodile that he had been wrestling in a mangrove swamp. And the Crocodile Hunter understood how his risk-taking made him a cult hero to millions in the 130 countries where his films aired: his fans aped his trademark cry of “Crikey, he nearly got me!” and flocked to his Australia Zoo in Queensland on Australia’s east coast.

“Steve Irwin’s all pretty interesting on the telly or in the movie and that, but by crikey, it’s great when he gets bitten,” he once told Australia’s ABC television. “Now and again I do get bitten. But I haven’t been killed. And it’s that, you know, that sense of morbidity that people do have.

In 1991, Irwin met Terri Raines, an American naturalist from Eugene, Oregon who was visiting wildlife rehabilitation facilities in Australia and had decided to visit the zoo. According to the couple, it was love at first sight. Terri said at the time, “I thought there was no one like this anywhere in the world. He sounded like an environmental Tarzan, a larger-than-life superhero guy.”They were engaged four months later and were married in Eugene on 4 June 1992. Together they had two children: a daughter, Bindi Sue Irwin (born 24 July 1998), and a son, Robert Clarence “Bob” (named after Irwin’s father) Irwin (born 1 December 2003). Bindi Sue is jointly named after two of Steve Irwin’s favourite animals: Bindi, a saltwater crocodile, and Sui, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier 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 once said, “The only thing that could ever keep him away from the animals he loves are the people he loves even more.”Although the Irwins were happily married, they did not wear wedding rings; they believed that in their line of work, wearing jewellery could pose a hazard to them and/or the animals.

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 wildlife 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.

On 4 September 2006, Irwin was fatally pierced in the chest by a stingray spine while snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, at Batt Reef, which is located off the coast of Port Douglas in north Queensland. Irwin was in the area filming his own documentary, 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 Irwin was hosting when the ray suddenly turned and lashed out at him with the spine on its tail.

The events were caught on camera, and a copy of the footage was handed to the Queensland Police.In an interview with TIME, marine documentary filmmaker and former spearfisherman Ben Cropp concluded that Irwin had accidentally boxed the ray in, causing it to attack: “It stopped and twisted and threw up its tail with the spike, and it caught him in the chest…. It’s a defensive thing. It’s like being stabbed with a dirty dagger…. It’s a one-in-a-million thing. I have swum with many rays, and I have only had one do that to me.”

Escaped from many deadly animals Irwin lost his life from a Sting Ray….Even though he left this world, he still lives in the hearts of the people.

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