Beloved crocodile hunter says his final "crikey!"

Posted Thursday, September 28, 2006 - 12:00am

On September 4, the world lost one of its most unique champions of wildlife. Cruel fate (and the most ill-tempered stingray in the universe) has taken the life of Steve Irwin. While filming a segment for his daughter's television show in the Great Barrier Reef, the Crocodile Hunter was fatally stung in the heart by the sharp tail of a sting ray.

In a barbarous attempt at revenge, many stingrays were in turn murdered on the Queensland Coast. A tragedy of Shakespearean proportion. To kill the animals that a man spent his whole life trying to protect in his honor is not just foolish but also disrespectful to his memory.

But that those guys are sleaze bags is already obvious. My purpose is to present the undeniable facts that prove Irwin as one of the most admirable and excellent individuals to ever exist. And to share with you some of the moments that shaped the Crocodile Hunter into an outstanding human being and an international star.

When most kids were eating paste in kindergarten, Irwin was playing with dangerous reptiles. He grew up around crocodiles and other reptiles on his parent's Queensland reptile reserve. On his sixth birthday, he was given a 12-foot-long scrub python. Three years later he wrestled his first alligator. As you can see, Irwin was already riding the superhighway to uber-mandom from childhood.

Soon after high school he moved to north Queensland. Most people would find college a sensible next step in their lives. Not Irwin, as soon as he arrived in North Queensland he began trapping crocodiles and shipping them back to his parent's zoo. Who wouldn't be proud of a son like that?

Next for Irwin was marriage. He met his wife, Terri, while doing a crocodile demonstration. She was so taken by his rugged good looks and magnanimous charms that she just had to have him. The couple was married in June 1992 in Eugene, Oregon. Bet ya can't guess what they did for a honeymoon ... ... ... ... .. That's right she dawned the khaki suit and the couple went crocodile hunting. As you can see not only was Irwin intensely manly, he was a sensitive romantic as well.

His big break came when the Animal Planet Channel decided to give him his own show. The indestructible optimism and enthusiasm with which he confronted every situation drew international attention to the television series. Soon after the show was aired, nearly everyone in America could recognize this crazy Australian in his khaki outfits handling venomous snakes by their tails or coming perilously close to an alligator bite.

When asked about his own death, he said ""My number one rule is to keep that camera rolling ... .. Even if a big old alligator is chewing me up I want to go down and go, 'Crikey!' just before I die. That would be the ultimate for me." Well the cameras kept rolling. Whether he did exclaim Crikey will never be known. I for one would like to think he did. That, my friends, would be the ultimate for me.

Irwin's memorial was broadcast on September 20. It was attended by 5,000 people and broadcast live around the world to an estimated 300 million viewers. On the day that he died the Animal Planet ran an around the clock tribute to him. He leaves behind his wife Terri, his daughter Bindi Sue Irwin, and his son Rober Clarence Irwin.

The Crocodile Hunter was a stalwart defender of animals everywhere. An enthusiastic conservationalist and insperational role model. Steve Irwin was a man who lived his life with passion and purpose. He did what he loved and followed his dreams to the very end. I feel it is safe to say that his life, though cut short, was a happy and full one.

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