Terrible news came today in the report of the accidental death of Steve Irwin. Irwin was filming a new nature special with his crew when he was stabbed in the heart by a poisonous Stingray barb off Port Douglas in north Queensland, The Australian reports.
They should have called Steve Irwin "The Crocodile Champion," not "Crocodile Hunter." Irwin always showed a passionate love for nature in general and crocodiles in particular. His enthusiasm was infectious and I always considered him to be a great role model for kids as he always tried to instill for all viewers the need to understand and care for their environment.
Irwin got himself in a bit of trouble a couple of years back when he was filmed with his baby boy tucked under one arm while he was holding bait out with the other to an aggressive-looking crocodile. There was a surge of complaints when that video circulated.
The greatest outcry came from seeing the bait in Irwin's hand and the baby tucked under his other arm. They looked subliminally similar in that they are both just hanging there. Other than that, it appeared to me the baby was in no real danger.I've posted a link to a YouTube video showing not the overblown incident I just mentioned, but a much more touching one and much more indicative of Irwin's love for nature, where he is crying over the loss of a crocodile. This clip shows you why he was more "Crocodile Champion" than "Crocodile Hunter."
I'm afraid there was no one like Irwin and there likely never will be. He was an enthusiast, a naturalist, and a great salesperson in that he did more to encourage protection of the environment and wildlife around the world than Al Gore could ever hope to do with his science fantasy disaster film, An Inconvenient Truth.
Ironically, some of the so-called "science" behind Truth has already been undercut by another story in The Australian, which mentions that, "[the] world's top climate scientists have cut their worst-case forecast for global warming over the next 100 years."
Irwin's strategy of teaching children to love nature and to care for its creatures is, by far, the best possible approach.
May his influence continue to live for a long time to come.