Steve Irwin

BRISBANE, Australia - Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and environmentalist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday by a stingray during a diving expedition. He was 44.

Stephen Robert "Steve" Irwin (22 February 1962 – 4 September 2006) was an Australian environmentalist and television personality. He was best known for his television franchise the The Crocodile Hunter, an unconventional wildlife documentary series which he hosted with his wife Terri Irwin. Irwin's character and outrageous antics in the series made him an international celebrity. He also owned and operated the Australia Zoo at Beerwah in Queensland.

Steve Irwin was born in 1962 to parents Lyn and Bob Irwin, who were animal naturalists. He has shared the love for animals all his life, stemming from being raised at the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park. There, he partook in daily duties of animal feeding and care. He quickly established himself with the Queenland’s government on the process of the country’s Crocodile Relocation Program, in which the reptiles could be transferred and relocated to proper localties in the most absolute humane, non-tranquilizing manner. He frequently implements the non-tranquilizing factor in his televison show “Croc Files” (1999).

In 1991, Steve took over the running of the park, now renamed the “Australia Zoo”, and in 1992 met (at the park) and married Terri. They have one daughter Bindi Sue Irwin who was born July 24, 1998 and a son, Robert (Bob) Clarence Irwin born December 1rst, 2003. The footage, shot by John Stainton, of their crocodile-trapping honeymoon became the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter, which became wildly successful in America.

Under Steve’s expansive leadership, the operations have grown to include the zoo, the television series, The Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, and International Crocodile Rescue. Improvements to his Australia Zoo include the Animal Planet Crocoseum, the rainforest aviary, and Tiger Temple.

To date, Steve can claim that he has never been bitten by a venomous snake, despite his bare-hand handling of some of the most deadliest snakes in the world.

In 2001, Steve appeared in a cameo role in the Eddie Murphy film Dr. Dolittle 2. In 2002, his first feature film, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, was released. In general, reviews of this film were negative. However, in 2003, Irwin was reportedly in line to host a chat show on Australian network television.

In June 2004, Irwin again was the subject of controversy when allegations were made that he came too close to and disturbed some wildlife (namely whales, seals and penguins) while filming a documentary in Antarctica. Interacting with Antarctic wildlife in a disapproved manner may be a breach of Australian federal and international laws. Subsequently, the matter was closed without charges being filed.

Animal Planet then released a Crocodile Hunter special called “Crocodiles & Controversy”, which attempted to explain both the “Baby Bob Incident” and the Antarctica incident. This special argues that Irwin’s son was never in danger of being eaten by the crocodile and that Irwin could not have endangered animals in Antarctica.

Animal Planet ended the Crocodile Hunter with a series finale entitled “Steve’s Last Adventure”. The last Crocodile Hunter documentary went for three emotional hours with footage of Steve’s across-the-world adventure, visiting locations like the Himalayas, the Yangtze River, Borneo, and the Kruger National Park.

Steve Irwin was active in politics and was a supporter of the conservative Liberal Party of Australia. In particular, he strongly supported the incumbent Prime Minister John Howard.

On 4 September 2006, shortly after 11:00 a.m. local time (01:00 UTC), Irwin was killed in a marine accident while filming an underwater documentary in the Great Barrier Reef off the Low Isles near Port Douglas, north of Cairns, Queensland, Australia. News reports say he was stung either through his heart or through the left side of his chest by a stingray, causing a fatal wound. After he was stung, his crew called medical help. The Queensland Rescue Helicoper responded. However, Irwin was immediately pronounced dead at the scene. The Queensland Police Service notified his family and released a statement for the media concerning the event. In a statement released to Australian media, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer expressed his sorrow and said that he was fond of Irwin and was very appreciative of all the work he had done in promoting Australia overseas.