Guest Author - Carol Taller
Stephen Robert Irwin was born on February 22, 1962. He was best known for promoting environmentalism and conservation of endangered animals. His television show “Crocodile Hunter” brought him fame but it was his untimely death that shocked the world.
Irwin was born in upper Fern Tree Gully, Victoria, and moved to Beerwah, Queensland with his parents and two sisters. In 1970 his parents opened a reptile and fauna park. He was wrestling crocodiles by the time he was 9 years old and spent much of his time caring for the animals.
In 1991 Irwin met tourist Terri Rains. They married on June 4, 1992 in Eugene, Oregon and together began filming a documentary. The film was so successful that a television series called “Crocodile Hunter” starring Irwin was developed.
Irwin’s enthusiastic manner and colorful expressions is probably what made the show so successful. He showed no fear of the animals and often acted impulsively on screen.
On one show, in 2004, Irwin held his one month old son in his arm while feeding a chicken carcass to a crocodile. Animal and human rights groups compared this action to Michael Jackson dangling his son out of a hotel window. Irwin apologized for the action but sincerely did not believe that he put his child in any danger.
Irwin claimed his mission was to save endangered species. He was concerned about "land clearing" and bought large tracts of land to preserve it.
In 2006 Irwin was shooting a documentary called “Ocean’s Deadliest.” The weather was not cooperating, so Irwin decided to film in shallow water for a program his daughter was hosting. He was snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Port Douglas, Queensland, when a stingray fatally pierced his chest sending him into cardiac arrest. This was all caught on film.
Terri Irwin was given custody of the film showing Irwin’s final moments. She stated that she did not want the images public and that everything would be destroyed. Despite these comments, several videos and stills have surfaced on You Tube and other sites.
Irwin was buried in a private ceremony at the Australia Zoo although his gravesite remains inaccessible to zoo visitors. A public service was held one week later and broadcast throughout the world.