I know its a bit late, but I have something to say.
I'd like to air my views on the untimely death of Steve Irwin.
Jay Leno called him 'the greatest ambassador Australia ever had'. Wrong. He was a great ambassador for the STEREOTYPE that Americans WANTED to see us as. Very different to the way we are. Like most Australians I did not appreciate his portrayal of our great nation. But I had to admire his attitude to our attitude to him. He knew it, and acknowledged it. And didn't care. Like any true Aussie.
Germaine 'sodding' Greer called him an 'animal tormentor' and stated that the animals had had their revenge, or something similar. Wrong again. Steve Irwin has done more single handedly for conservation than any living person. Except maybe David Attenborogh. But maybe not. He has bought massive tracts of land, to keep them in their natural state. He raised so much awareness of our own unique (or, as we Aussies say, boring) wildlife. But he didn't stop there. He cared for all wildlife. Native or introduced. Rare or pest. From scorpions to whales. And he was so passionate about what he did. And that worked up enthusiasm in others. He taught many people more than just the basics about animals. But for all that, in the end he committed one of the most basic and dangerous errors. He approached an animal in a threatening position, and he surprised it.
When I forst heard of his death, like most people, I was stunned. For all of his foolishness he seemed immortal. Like he had superpowers. And in a way, he did. Wouldn't we all like to conquer our fears?
As an Australian I'd be inclined to remember him as a bloody idiot. Bearing in mind any description of a person beginning with 'bloody' is a compliment. But as an educated animal professional, I feel it is an irrevocable loss.