As of this past Wednesday, February 22th, Steve Irwin would have been 55 years old.
The famed Crocodile Hunter passed away while filming a production called Ocean’s Deadliest for Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. Swimming in chest deep water, Irwin approached a six and a half foot-span stingray, to film it moving through the water from behind.
According to the incident’s only witness, “All of a sudden [the stingray] propped on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail. Hundreds of strikes in a few seconds”. The stingray struck Irwin in the chest. It was initially believed that Irwin only suffered from a punctured lung. It would soon be tragically discovered that the jagged stingray barbs punctured Irwin’s heart, causing him to bleed to death. Irwin was administered CPR aboard the expedition boat and rushed to the shore. When doctor’s arrived, they pronounced him dead at the scene.
Stingray attacks are highly uncommon, as the animals do not show much aggression towards humans. Most stingray injuries on humans are because the human had stepped on top of the ray, and are targeted at the limbs. Thus, it is believed the stingray that fatally killed Irwin was acting defensively, as it was boxed in by the camera and divers.
The Australian government offered the Irwin family a state funeral after his tragic death. However, Irwin’s father, Bob Irwin, denied the request, citing that Steve would want to be remembered as just, “an ordinary bloke.”
His daughter, Bindi Sue Irwin, honored the anniversary of his death with an Instagram post. The 18-year-old shared a throwback photo of the Crocodile Hunter host with a white and yellow parrot. “Always in our hearts,” she captioned the Instagram post.
Irwin grew up around crocodiles and reptiles, his parents having opened up small Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park. He took a part in feeding and maintaining the animals daily. He even wrestled his first crocodile, under his father’s supervision, at the age of 9.
The love Irwin held for animals, particularly crocodiles, is astonishing, and evident in every aspect of his adult life. He and his wife even spent their honeymoon trapping crocodiles together. Footage taken from this honeymoon would form the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter.
The series would run for five seasons, 60 episodes, from 1996 through 2007. Known for his bubbly personality and infectious enthusiasm, as well as his signature catchphrase, “Crikey!”, Irwin as a show host inspired millions of children around the world to admire and respect the beautiful creatures that are all around us.
Irwin was a passionate environmentalist, and preferred to spread his message by sharing his excitement for wildlife. Irwin founded the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, which became an independent charity and was later renamed “Wildlife Warriors Worldwide.”
Donations to Wildlife Warriors Worldwide can be made at the following address: https://support.wildlifewarriors.org.au/USA-donate?_ga=1.81250514.458071987.1487964323
Steve’s family continues to raise money for the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors organization, which was founded by the couple in 2002. They are hosting a Steve Irwin Gala in L.A. on May 13.