In Memory of Steve Irwin
It is one year today since the tragic, premature passing of Steve Irwin. He was “fatally pierced in the chest with a sting ray barb”. I remember hearing the news on the radio on my way to work that morning. While I would never have called myself a fan, I did admire him greatly, and I was deeply saddened. I could not believe how quickly people made light of it.
I have learned a lot more about Irwin in the year since his death. While some had criticised him claiming that he intruded upon animals in their natural habitat, others say that above all he loved and cared for the animals he knew so well, and always had their well being in mind. Rightly or wrongly, I find myself agreeing with the latter.
What is indisputable, is that Irwin had a wonderfully entertaining, extrovert personality. He oozed confidence, and viewers all over the world warmed to him. It often seemed as if he had no fear.
Considering all of the dangerous beasts he handled so skilfully, it is a heart-rending irony that he was killed by a creature that normally would have posed little threat to him. I heard a lot of comments around the time along the lines of, “well, he had it coming to him” or “if you will keep playing with matches, you’ll eventually get burnt”. How very easy it is to say something like that from the comfort of your own home. Very few people are willing to risk their lives, time and time again, to do what they love. Irwin was one such person, and ultimately his passion cost him his life.
It is not easy for us humans to get close to the animals which Irwin was so at ease around, especially in their own natural environment. His brave work has enabled us to learn a great deal about some of the creatures with whom we share this planet. We are indebted to him for his courage and good humour, and when the world loses such a person, it is a loss to us all. He deserves to be remembered, not with sadness, but with joy, as I’m sure he would have wished. I’ll be raising a glass to Steve’s memory tonight, I hope you’ll join me.