Well this is a pretty suckful way to start off the day, turning on CNN to find that Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin is dead.
My husband, Larry, has owned and bred reptiles for years and we've had everything here from alligators to cobras. Before Alex was born, we did wildlife educational programs for schools and groups. We always stressed respect for wild animals, and when Steve Irwin's show appeared we winced a little at the crazy chances he took. Wild animals can be dangerous. Touching or tackling them is never a good idea, but here was a guy free-handling snakes and teasing crocs with chunks of chicken.
But for all his daredevil showmanship, it was impossible not to like Irwin. He had a infectious appreciation for animals, especially reptiles, and his popular program inspired many youngsters to think differently about creatures their parents warned them were better off dead. It didn't take us long to be converted from skeptics to fans, even if we didn't always agree with his tactics.
His death was one of those freakish accidents that just doesn't make sense. The man who threw himself on 18-food saltwater crocodiles with reckless abandon was speared through the heart by the tail of a stingray while diving off the Great Barrier Reef. Only three such other fatalities have been reported.
Irwin was reportedly filming a program that was to star his 9-year-old daughter, Bindi, when he was killed. He also leaves behind a wife and a 3-year-old son. I can't imagine how deeply his family feel the loss - all loss that all his fans, in small part, are sharing upon hearing the news.
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