Steve Irwin: The World-Renowned Crocodile Hunter

Updated on February 21, 2019
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Readmikenow enjoys writing about unique and interesting people. He likes to learn about individuals who live or have lived unusual lives.

Steve Irwin
Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin was known worldwide for his conservation efforts. He was a successful zookeeper as well as a television personality. His popular television series was called The Crocodile Hunter and ran from 1996 to 2007. The show was a wildlife documentary series broadcast around the world. Irwin's wife Terri was the co-host. Irwin's parents founded the Beerwah Reptile Park and eventually turned it over to their son Steve. He decided to rename the park and call it Australia Zoo. Irwin and his wife Terri also hosted the show Croc Files, which ran from 1999 to 2001. Their show The Crocodile Hunter Diaries ran from 2002 to 2006. They also had a show called New Breed Vets that ran in 2005. Irwin is recognized for making “Crikey” a familiar word known around the world.

Early Life

Stephen Robert Irwin was born on February 22, 1962, in Victoria, Australia. It was the same day as his mother's birthday. His family moved to Queensland, Australia in 1970. He went to Landsborough State School and Caloundra State High School. Irwin credited his parents for his passion for wildlife. They were involved in efforts to protect the wild reptiles in Australia. Irwin's parents founded a Beerwah Reptile Park on 4 acres of land. During this time, a young Steve Irwin would go with his father to the Outback on expeditions. They would trap poisonous snakes, lizards as well as crocodiles. Irwin and his father would also rehabilitate abandoned and injured birds, kangaroos as well as wallabies and more at their reptile park.

Young Steve Irwin
Young Steve Irwin

First Crocodile Experience

During an expedition during the early 1970s, Irwin traveled with his father for the East Coast Crocodile Management Program. This was a government-sponsored project. Its purpose was to decrease crocodile hunting. The goal was to relocate the crocodiles to areas less populated or to sanctuaries. This included the Beerwah Reptile Park. During one of these expeditions, Irwin was 9 years old and tried to subdue a crocodile by jumping on its back. Over time, he perfected his technique.

Australia's Top Croc Catcher

Irwin started working for the crocodile Management Program in the early 1980s when he was an adult. During this time, he would be alone in the bush for months in search of animals. Irwin was able to capture some of the most dangerous and largest crocodiles. Others involved in the program started referring to Irwin as Australia's top croc catcher.

The Crocodile Hunter Advertisement
The Crocodile Hunter Advertisement

The Crocodile Hunter

During the early 1990s, Irwin began recording things that occurred during his expeditions. He started using a video camera placed on a tripod. Irwin hired a consultant to create a commercial about the Beerwah Reptile Park. He showed his tapes to a television network producer, who strongly suggested Irwin use them to create a documentary. Irwin did this and created a documentary called The Crocodile Hunter. It was 10 hours long and initially aired on Australian television in 1992. The documentary was a huge success. Irwin was requested by television producers to make additional documentaries. In 1996, it turned into a regular series covering wildlife inside as well as outside Australia. In the United States, The Crocodile Hunter program was picked up by the Discovery Channel network. It became successful and was eventually shown in over 130 countries. It’s estimated that each show was viewed by approximately 500 million people.

Steve Irwin feeding crocodile at reptile park
Steve Irwin feeding crocodile at reptile park

Marriage And Children

Irwin took over the running Beerwah park from his father in 1991. While demonstrating how to feed crocodiles in the park, he met Terri Raines. She was a conservationist and businesswoman from the United States. Raines became Irwin’s wife in 1992. The couple had two children. Bindi Sue Irwin was born on July 24, 1998. Robert Clarence Irwin was born on December 1, 2003. Terri became the manager of their business and other conservation projects. She was also a significant part of the filming for the program The Crocodile Hunter and Irwin’s other documentaries. During their honeymoon, Terri and Steve spent their time filming crocodiles. This film became part of the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter.

Steve Irwin with family
Steve Irwin with family

Nature Preservation

The Irwins also worked to establish large private refuges in Australia's wild. They founded The Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation (SICF). This is an international organization designed to promote wildlife research, conservation as well as education. The organization later had its name changed to Wildlife Warriors. He also was instrumental in creating International Crocodile Rescue (ICR).

Steve's Last Adventure

The series finale of The Crocodile Hunter was broadcast on the Animal Planet cable television channel. It was called Steve's Last Adventure and lasted for three hours. The program showed Irwin's adventures around the world including Kruger National Park, Yangtze River, Himalayas, Borneo, and others. Irwin did star in other documentaries for the Animal Planet channel including Croc Files.

Poster at Australia Zoo
Poster at Australia Zoo

Business Growth

Irwin's television popularity helped make Australia Zoo a major Australian tourist attraction. By 2000, it had grown from occupying 16 acres to 80 acres. The park went from 550 animals to having over a thousand animals by 2007. Irwin was able to expand the Australia Zoo to include such things as the Tiger Temple, Animal Planet Crocoseum as well as a rainforest aviary. Under the direction of Steve Irwin, his business operations grew to include various television series as well as the Australia zoo.

Awards And Honors

Irwin was with his father for a fishing trip off the coast of Queensland, Australia in 1997. During this trip, he was able to discover a previously undiscovered species of turtle. Irwin was given the honor of naming the new species of turtle. He decided to name it after his family. It was named Enlseya irwini or Irwin's turtle. The Centenary Medal was awarded to Irwin by the Australian government in 2001. It was given to him because of his service to Australian tourism and global conservation. In 2004, Irwin was named Tourism Export of the Year. During this same year, he was named Queensland Australian of the year. A new type of air-breathing land snail was discovered in 2009. It was named Crikey steveirwini after Irwin. In this same year, Irwin was inducted into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame. This was done to recognize his international entrepreneurship in wildlife conservation as well as business.

Death

Irwin was in Queensland near Port Douglas at Batt Reef. He was busy filming a documentary series that would be known as Ocean's Deadliest. There was a pause in the filming from bad weather. During this time, Irwin decided to snorkel in shallow waters. He would be doing some filming to provide some footage for a television program being done by his daughter. Irwin was slowing swimming in water that was chest-deep when he approached a short-tail stingray. It was approximately six feet long. He approached the stingray from the rear, so he could film it swimming away. The stingray ray propped on its front for some unknown reason. It struck Irwin hundreds of times in a few seconds. Initially, Irwin thought he only had experienced a punctured lung. The stingray's barb had actual pierced Irwin's heart causing him to bleed to death. Immediately after the incident, Irwin's boat crew tried CPR and then rushed him to a hospital. There he was pronounced dead. On September 4, 2006, Steve Irwin died at the age of 44.

Steve Irwin memorial service
Steve Irwin memorial service

Memorial Service

A public memorial service was held for Steve Irwin on September 20, 2006. It took place at the 5,500 seat Crocoseum at Australia's Zoo. He was eulogized by Russell Crowe. The service was broadcast live. It was seen in Australia, United Kingdom, United States as well as Asia and Germany. It is estimated over 300 million people worldwide watched Steve Irwin's memorial service. Australia's Prime Minister Howard spoke at the service. At the end of the memorial service, Irwin's truck was filled with gear and driven out of the arena. The Australia Zoo staff used yellow flowers to spell out the word Crikey as Irwin's truck left the Crocoseum.

Funeral

A private funeral service was held for Steve Irwin on September 9, 2006. It was only attended by family and close friends. The ceremony took place at Australia Zoo and the gravesite is unable to be accessed by any zoo visitors. Australia's Prime Minister offered to give Irwin a state funeral but his family declined. Irwin's father said his son would have wanted to be remembered as an ordinary bloke.

Sources

Biography
https://www.biography.com/people/steve-irwin-189158

Britannica
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Steve-Irwin

Notable Biographies
https://www.notablebiographies.com/supp/Supplement-Fl-Ka/Irwin-Steve.html

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Readmikenow

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      • Readmikenow profile imageAUTHOR

        Readmikenow 

        4 months ago

        Bill, thanks! I agree. You could almost feel his love of what he was doing when you watched him.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        4 months ago from Olympia, WA

        The thing I will always remember about Irwin is his infectious smile and how much he absolutely loved what he was doing.

      • Readmikenow profile imageAUTHOR

        Readmikenow 

        4 months ago

        Madan, thanks.

      • emge profile image

        MG Singh 

        4 months ago from Singapore

        Great informative article about a man I knew nothing about. Added to my knowledge.

      • Readmikenow profile imageAUTHOR

        Readmikenow 

        4 months ago

        Liz, Thanks. I agree. I believe he would have accomplished quite a bit more if he had lived longer.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        4 months ago from UK

        A genuine personality of the modern age, who sadly met such a tragic and untimely end.

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