Wildlife life expert and television personality Steve Irwin, better known as the “Crocodile Hunter,” was killed by a stingray on Monday, Sept. 4, at the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Port Douglas in Queensland, Aus. The stingray fatally pierced him in the chest while he was shooting footage for a show his daughter was to star in. As of 1996, only 17 fatalities due to stingrays have been reported worldwide. He is survived by his wife, Terri, and their two children, Bindi Sue and Bob. Irwin met his wife, who was born in the United States, while he was doing a demonstration at the Australia Zoo in 1992. The first broadcast of “The Crocodile Hunter” was filmed during their honeymoon where they trapped crocodiles. His enthusiasm and his catchphrase “Crikey!” brought him worldwide attention.
Irwin’s show “The Crocodile Hunter” debuted on Australian television in 1992, and later found worldwide success when it was picked up by Discovery Channel. He was also the director of the Australia Zoo in Queensland and a strong advocate for wildlife and nature conservation.
Irwin made it to the silver screen in 2002’s “The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course,” portraying himself. He also starred in many Animal Planet documentaries such as “Croc Files,” “The Crocodile Hunter Diaries,” and “New Breed Vets.” Discovery Channel was developing a show titled “Jungle Girl” that his daughter was to star in. The Travel Channel also showed a series in which Irwin and his family took tours across-country.
He founded the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, which is now named the Wildlife Warriors Worldwide. Wildlife Warriors aims to protect the environment, support education and awareness of wildlife issues, support biological research and to protect endangered species. Irwin was also involved in founding 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 Centre.
Irwin was met with strong criticism in 2004 when he held his one-month-old son Bob while feeding a chicken carcass to a crocodile during a taping of a show. He also drew criticism at times because of his assertive style of handling the animals. Germaine Greer, an Australian writer and feminist, wrote in her column in The Guardian that “the animal world had finally taken its revenge.” She was supported by Dr. Clive Hamilton, the executive director of the Australia Institute, who called Irwin a “crude presenter of nature.” Their comments were received negatively by worldwide press and support outpoured in favor of Irwin’s wildlife efforts.
Discovery Channel plans to rename the garden in front of their headquarters in Maryland, the “Steve Irwin Memorial Sensory Garden.” Discovery is also looking at the possibility of a Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter Fund which will support wildlife protection, conservation, the Australia Zoo and will provide educational support for Irwin’s children.