Australian naturalist and TV icon Steve Irwin, “The Crocodile Hunter”, died earlier today while filming off the North Queensland coast.
Irwin was pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming an underwater segment for his daughter’s new TV show, called Ocean’s Deadliest, at Batt Reef, off Port Douglas in North Queensland. Collapsing at approximately 11am on Monday September 4, 2006, he received CPR for almost one hour.
When the emergency helicopter arrived at the scene, both his pulse and breathing had stopped. It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest, however further assessment will be carried out at a post-mortem examination in Carins. Death from contact with a stingray barb is considered “highly unusual”.
Born Stephen Robert Irwin in Melbourne on 22 February 1962, he moved to Queensland at a young age, where his parents operated the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park. Beginning his career as a crocodile trapper, he took over the park in 1991, renaming it Australia Zoo.
He met Terri in 1992 and their honeymoon was spent trapping crocodiles, which became the pilot episode of the highly successful TV series, The Crocodile Hunter. The show aired across 122 countries worldwide.
Though highly revered in his home country for tireless environmental preservation efforts and promotion of his state and nation, Irwin’s career was not without controversy.
In January 2004, Steve Irwin hit international headlines following a live show at Australia Zoo, in which he held his one month-old baby boy under one arm, while hand-feeding a chicken to “Murray” the crocodile. This became known as the “Baby Bob Incident” and was compared to Michael Jackson dangling his son outside a window in Germany.
His actions were cause for concern amongst child welfare and animal rights groups, along with much criticism from the general public. Irwin escaped charges but as a direct result, new laws were established in February 2005, which prevented children or untrained adults from entering crocodile enclosures.
In June 2004, Irwin again found himself in the media spotlight while filming the Ice Breaker documentary for US television channel Animal Planet. It was alleged that Irwin had closely interacted with several Antarctic wildlife — a federal and international crime attracting fines of up to $1 million dollars and two years jail. The Australian Antarctica Division of the federal government investigated the footage but found no grounds for charges to be made.
Beyond all his unconventional antics, Steve was a well-loved personality, national ambassador, and highly respected conservationist. He appeared in the movies Dr. Dolittle 2 with Eddie Murphy; Wiggly Safari in the company of popular children entertainers, The Wiggles; and his own feature film, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course. His exuberant personality attracted a strong fanbase around the world, with children his most loved audience.
In conjunction with his work at Australia Zoo, Steve Irwin established Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, International Crocodile Rescue, and the Australian Wildlife Hospital. His conservation work was not just centered on crocodiles, having made noteworthy contributions to the preservation of many other endangered species, including koalas and wombats.
He urged Australians to be aware of strict quarantine requirements, for the benefit of native ecology and wildlife, in an advertising campaign for the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. He was honored with a Centenary Medal in 2001, for his service to global conservation and Australian tourism.
Steve Irwin was 44 years old and is survived by his wife, Terri; daughter, Bindi, aged 8; and son, Robert, aged 2.Powered by Sidelines