Monday, September 04, 2006

Goodbye Steve Irwin

Vale Steve Irwin.
As he lived, so did he die - taking risks with dangerous animals.
A stingray barb in the chest is about as rare and exotic as a dangerouos animal death may be. Stingray barbs in the foot or ankle are not uncommon. But on the chest? We are assuming Irwin was swimming low over the stingray, as they filmed their documentary about dangerous seacreatures, and that the stingray became alarmed and defensive. One imagines the death of Steve Irwin was captured on film, as were the many near-misses of a danger-dotted career.

What is interesting is the effect Irwin's sudden death had in this busy metropolitan newsroom. Nobody had ever bothered to express much of an opinion on Steve Irwin in the daily joust of the work environment. But news of his death sped across the floor producing a current of jaw drops and gasps. When the first report emerged on the television news monitors, people stood at their desks, straining to hear further details. There were none - just the same wire story, embellished with old footage of Irwin among animals. There is no shortage of images of Steve Irwin dicing with danger amid snakes and crocs.
And it seems that we are bonded in sorrow about this 44-year-old enthusiast who, albiet once causing kerfuffle by waving his baby near a croc, had carved a niche as a good-natured, high-spirited Aussie. He was a real life Crocodile Dundee - not an actor. His life was unscripted and his antics ever more dangerous. So there will be no re-take of the stingray scene. It is the final reality - that dangerous animals are really dangerous.

The world's most colourful conservationist is gone - by the world's most extreme and extraordinary freak incident, stabbed in the heart by a stingray. He may be the only person ever to have died that way.

And we are all very sad.

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