On the morning of September 4, shocking news
came from overseas. While diving out in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia to film a television special, Animal Planet's legendary TV host, Steve Irwin
, was stabbed in the chest by a stingray's barb, killing the star nearly instantly. He was 44.
Irwin's specialty of capturing and relocating crocodiles
to safer habitats earned him the nickname "The Crocodile Hunter," for which his Animal Planet show was named. He had put his own life in danger daily to educate millions of viewers about the nature of crocodiles, snakes, reptiles and countless other species. He led viewers on journeys through the wilderness, always excited and enthusiastic about the animals he'd come across, explaining them in detail from the nature of their habitat to the hazards they present to their prey-- and, more importantly, to humans.
Irwin is survived by his wife and co-host Terri, and their two children, Bindi and Bob. In the wake of Irwin's death his family has vowed to go on
, continuing the work he so loved. Terri plans to return to the stage at the Australia Zoo, which features a Crocodile Hunter exhibit staged by the Irwin family. And daughter Bindi, who is fast following in his footsteps, has her own show for Discovery Kids network, for which Steve had been filming a segment
when he was killed.
On a negative note though, shortly after his passing, it was believed that fans began a "revenge campaign" against stingrays
, and at least 10 of them were found dead with their barbs cut off. Also, animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) launched a scathing attack
on Irwin just days after his death. Members accused him of "antagonizing frightened wild animals" and of being a "cheap reality TV star". Also, spoof videos and game versions
of his death were posted online, offending fans. An angry fan said, "These people are sick. The guy has only been dead for a few days, show some respect."
Despite these minor campaigns, however, millions paid tribute
to Irwin. Less than a week after his death, Australians launched a campaign to dress in Steve Irwin's trademark khaki to honor him. The "Crikey, It's Khaki Friday" campaign raised money for Irwin's 'Wildlife Warriors Worldwide
' charity. Actor Russell Crowe, a good friend of Irwin's, was hit hard by the loss of Irwin
and said, "He was the ultimate wildlife warrior... He touched my heart. I believed in him. I'll miss him." And "The View" co-host Barbara Walters traveled to Australia to interview
Terri and Bindi, saying, "The whole world seemed to care about him."
Irwin was always convinced he would die at an early
age and one point Irwin even said, "My number-one rule is to keep that camera rolling. Even if it's shaky or slightly out of focus, I don't give a rip. 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." He did get his wish; however, the footage was only viewed by the Queensland state coroner, and his manager plans to destroy the video
Steve Irwin was only the second recorded Australian to have been killed by a stingray. He will be missed.