RIP, Steve Irwin

This has been discussed in yesterday’s open thread a little but I wanted to give it its own thread. Mr. Irwin died too young, but he did so doing what he loved to do.

Here’s a piece that describes Irwin’s love for wildlife – anyone who has watched any of his shows knows his love of wildlife and nature was not just for the cameras. Whether considered ‘friendly’ or those that were/are widely considered unfriendly, like crocs and snakes, he loved ’em:

An acquaintance of one of my friends once served an internship at Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. “Is he… really like that?” my friend asked. You know. Like that. Like we see on TV. With the constant khaki and the “Crikey!” and the holding of snakes up over his head and the yelling.

Turns out he is. She reported seeing Irwin go into raptures over a delivery of mulch and his plans for spreading it just so for the animals, so thrilled was he with the wildlife he cared for that even the compost they walked upon was cause for a raised voice and wild gesticulations.

Somehow, it’s satisfying to know this. Mourners in Australia leaving flowers at the gates of his zoo are dwarfed by an enormous picture of Irwin and a slightly smaller croc. In an era of Botox and reality-show participants constantly blaming the editing, we want at least one person to be, in reality, as large, as wild, as yelly and as crocodile-adoring as he is in our living rooms.

The consensus of public opinion on the sudden death of the man we called the Crocodile Hunter is “I’m shocked… but I know I shouldn’t be.” The man waded into crocodile-infested waters, hauled poisonous snakes out from under rocks, and scaled trees in further search of things that send most people — and other animals — skittering the other direction.

The stingray that killed him pierced him, fittingly, directly in the heart. Here was a man who lived from his raw-edged passion.

Say what you will about his leaning into the camera, his insistence upon rarely changing out of his trademark khakis; the man was brimming with good television. He didn’t quietly narrate the feeding habits of a wild kangaroo as it rustled through the bushes. He dashed up into its face and brought it in for a close up.

Here’s a list of key events in the life of the 44 year-old Steve Irwin. Irwin was married and had two children.

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