“My job, my mission, the reason I’ve been put onto this planet, is to save wildlife,” said ‘Crocodile Hunter’ and man who brought the rich and fantastical world of wildlife to the homes of millions of fans around the world, Steve Irwin. And they weren’t just words- Steve’s efforts in the world of conservation are unparalleled.
Steve spent his growing years in Queensland, at the Irwin family’s reptile park. As a teenager, he would spent his time catching and relocating crocodiles for the Queensland government, accompanied by his pet dog Sui. His father, Bob Irwin, was a herpetologist and founded the family zoo which would eventually become the Australia Zoo. Today, it is home to 1000+ animals and is famous for their live demos. The zoo also manages a 135,000 ha property of wetlands that provide crucial habitat and water sources to threatened animals, and is named The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in his memory.
Steve is highly recognised for his television show “Crocodile Hunter,” which he co-hosted with his wife Terri. The show documented his very close and dangerous encounters with wild animals, especially crocodiles, and his endearing use of the word ‘crikey.’ What made this show so special was his gentle and loving demeanor towards the deadliest of creatures, calling them ‘beautiful’ and ‘gorgeous’ and ‘sweetheart’, as one would with little puppies or kittens. Irrespective of one’s interest in wildlife, his wholesome and heartwarming interactions with animals is a pure delight to watch. In a memorable moment on the show, while holding an Inland Taipan (the most venomous snake in the world), he says, “I’d rather deal with this snake than a lot of people out there. I reckon that people are much more dangerous.”
Right after their wedding, Steve and his wife Terri received a phone call about a poacher trying to kill a large crocodile in North Queensland. And the couple spent their honeymoon saving the crocodile. The footage of this eventually became the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter. Steve and Terri put all money raised from filming and merchandise of the show into conservation and building new exhibits.
It isn’t just the tv show- The Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation continues to buy large tracts of land and preserves them like national parks. Headed by his wife, the zoo makes significant conservation efforts today.
Steve’s life was tragically cut short when he was impaled through the chest by a stingray in 2006 near the Great Barrier Reef. But his legacy lives on through his family- his daughter, Bindi Sue, has starred in several wildlife television, and his son, Robert, is an upcoming wildlife photographer. Sharing his immense love for wildlife, his family has dedicated their lives for the sole cause of conservation.
Celebrating the legacy of the Crocodile Hunter on his 57th birthday, Google honoured his life with today’s Doodle.