Anyone who loves nature and animals definitely knows the man who was famously known as ‘The Crocodile Hunter’. Steve Irwin’s life was fun to watch – he never failed to wow viewers with his dangerous stunts with everything from snakes to crocodiles.
Always clad in his khaki shirts and shorts, Steve had an infectious personality. He was passionate about his work and knew how to draw in his audience with a mix of passion, education and humour. He was never shy to poke jokes at himself too. Steve was the complete package and was loved by all till the day he died.
Steve’s full portfolio included zookeeper, wildlife conservationist, television personality, actor and all-around comedian. He is best known for his iconic show The Crocodile Hunter, which quickly became his calling card. The show was massively successful in Australia before it was picked up by Animal Planet, an American cable network. From there, it gained massive international success and viewership, showing in over 200 countries at its peak.
Steve continued to grow his catalogue, eventually making it into film with movies such as Eddie Murphy’s 2001 hit movie, Dr Dolittle 2 and he and his wife’s indy movie a year later, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course. This movie grossed $33 million on a $12 million budget. The couple also hosted other shows centered around their work. Croc Files, The Crocodile Hunter Diaries and New Breed Vets aired chronologically from 2001 to 2006.
Irwin’s commercial and TV successes are too numerous to mention. He was a guest severally on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. He also appeared in a 2000 FedEx commercial and another for The Ghan, a passenger train that travelled between Darwin, Alice Springs and Adelaide.
He also lent his voice as an elephant seal named Trev in the 2005 animated movie, Happy Feet. The film was dedicated to him as he died during the post-production.
His passion for endangered animals and his concern for the loss of their habitat through land clearing was evident. He founded Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, originally known as Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, an independent charity. There was also the Lyn Irwin Memorial Fund, in memory of his mother and the Iron Bark Station Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility.
Irwin even has a turtle and a land snail named after him. He discovered this new species of turtle during a fishing trip with this father in 1997 and named it Elseya irwini (Irwin’s turtle). The newly discovered land breathing land snail was named Crikey Steveirwini, a mixture of his name and popular catchphrase.
Steve Irwin has received numerous nominations and awards both before and after his death. These include;
- The Centenary Medal for his service to global conservation and contributions to Australian tourism in 2001.
- The Tourism Export of the Year, 2004
- Nomination for Australian of the Year, 2004
- Adjunct Professor Posthumously, from the University of Queensland’s School of Integrative Biology in 2007.
- Queensland Business Leaders Hall Of Fame in recognition of his contribution to global entrepreneurship both in business and wildlife conservation that boosted Queensland’s international reputation, 2009.
- He posthumously received the Queensland Greats Awards in 2015
- Received his own star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 2017
Steve Irwin’s Parents
Steve was born in a suburb of Melbourne in Australia on 22 February 1962. His father, Bob Irwin, who was actually Irish, according to Steve was a herpetology expert. His mother, Lyn Irwin, who Steve shares the same birth date with, was a wildlife rehabilitator.
Steve, who attended Landsborough State School and Caloundra State High School, would later move to Queensland with his parents. There his parents, Bob and Lyn started a small wildlife park with a special focus on reptiles such as snakes and crocodiles.
Bob began to expose Steve to these dangerous animals at a tender age. It started with minor stuff like feeding the animals as well as care and maintenance responsibilities. When he turned six, his father memorably gifted him a 12-foot long scrub python. By the time he was nine years old, drawing from all his father had taught him about reptiles, he wrestled his first crocodile under his father’s watchful eye.
He would go on to catch more than 100 crocodiles during his time as a volunteer for Queensland East crocodile management program. While the majority were relocated, some found a new home at his family park. In 1991, he took over the park from his father and in 1998, he changed the name to Australian Zoo.
Steve Irwin’s Family, Children, Wife
Steve met his wife, Terri Raines in 1991. They hit it off immediately and got married the following year, on June 4, 1992. They did not believe it was wise to wear wedding rings as it could pose a danger to them or the animals.
Terri was an American naturalist who at the time had been visiting wildlife rehabilitation facilities in Australia. Her trip led her to the zoo where she met Steve. She described him as a one of a kind, larger than life, environmental Tarzan. They spent their honeymoon wrestling and trapping crocodiles together. This adventure later became the first episode of their hit TV documentary, The Crocodile Hunter.
Their union produced, a daughter Bindi Sue Irwin in 1998 and a son, Robert Clarence Irwin, born in 2003. Bindi Sue was named after a saltwater crocodile, and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, two of Steve’s favorite animals. Their second, Robert was named after Steve’s father, Bob Lyn.
After Steven’s death, his daughter Bindi has carried on in her father’s footsteps. She even had her own show airing on Discovery Kids, Animal Planet and Australia’s ABC1, titled Bindi the Jungle Girl.
Steve’s Death and Cause of Death
On 4th September 2006, Steve was at Batt Reef, near Port Douglas in Queensland. He had been involved in the production of the documentary series, Ocean’s Deadliest. During one of his breaks, he had decided to go snorkelling, with a member of the camera crew to capture some footage for his daughter’s TV show Bindi the Jungle Girl.
While trying to film a two-meter-long stingray from behind as it swam away, it suddenly reared up and stung Steve. It administered over a hundred stabs, piercing his heart with its barb in the process. He was given CPR and rushed to the Low Isles, where he was confirmed dead.
A private ceremony was held in Caloundra five days later and he was buried same day at the Australian Zoo. Steve Irwin’s burial site was inaccessible to tourists, who had thronged to the zoo after his death.