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Inside Column: Goodbye, Crocodile Hunter

Marty Schroeder | Thursday, September 7, 2006

The Crocodile Hunter is dead – long live the Crocodile Hunter.

Steve Irwin, the famed Australian conservationist and television personality has passed on and will no longer be able to make us laugh with his outgoing, accented personality or his love for the natural world. His memory will live on in the hearts and minds of his family, his country, the world and the countless animals he worked so hard to keep on this earth.

This may seem tongue-in- cheek, that I am making fun of this man who did so much. However, this is plain wrong. I am merely trying to write this in manner of which he would have approved. He was a humorous man and his devotion to the animal kingdom coupled with his ubiquitous cry of “CRIKEE!” will not be soon forgotten.

Some may seem him as a conservationist, others as a crazy man who endangered his own child, still others only as a crazy TV star. For some not from Australia, he may have been the definition of what that country in an opposite hemisphere is.

He was a man with little fear and an extreme comfort with the natural world. In an age where we are more used to skyscrapers, Gucci bags and Ray-ban sunglasses, he represented for many a gateway to a world that we only, in a slight way, encountered on our childhood trips to the local zoo.

The joy of the adrenaline rush and bringing human contact to animals was in him like few other men. The pantheon of conservationists and explorers, which include the likes of John James Audubon, Jacques Cousteau and Sir Ernest Shackleton, will now be able to add a new name – Steve Irwin – to those men who did much for the environment in an era when few cannot or do not want care about life outside their immediacy.

Cousteau may have been dignified, Shackleton tough and Audubon wise, but Irwin was able to bring wildlife in a palatable way into the homes of millions with his jovial nature and distinct enthusiasm. Ask any child if they have heard of The Sierra Club or Greenpeace and I would bet that blank stares would be the usual reaction more often than not.

But ask them if they know who the Crocodile Hunter is and watch the smiles of joy and hear the discovery they learned from his programs.

This is not a joke that I am giving to you – this is a eulogy of respect for a great man that will be sorely missed throughout every city, forest and ocean in this world.