"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Monday, September 04, 2006

Crocodile Hunter... Hunted

None of us knew how popular the Crocodile Hunter--Steve Irwin--really was until we all started telling friends and neighbors he was killed by a stingray. Wondering if they knew who he was, we were surprised that they not only knew him but enjoyed his work and succesful television show. Who expected a stingray would thrust its barb into the Crocodile Hunter's heart. A death roll by way of a croc is what most of us probably feared for Steve.

Second guessers will ponder whether or not Irwin could have equaled his commercial and environmental message successes without taking the risks that he did. It's one thing to chase poisonous snakes it's another thing to seize one and hold it up in your face. That's typical of the risks Irwin took. For certain he ascribed a degree of domesticness to wildlife when none really existed. Stingrays aren't like Flipper or Mr. Ed.

I suspect Irwin knew early on that to sell his show he would need that NASCAR crash-type element to it. He knew viewers would want to know there's a chance he could get bit, rolled, stung, chewed or crushed with one small mistake, or else they would tune he and his show out. This was not to be another Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom, which was decent in its day. That's what Steve gave and it worked quite well until this past week. Age 44.

His contributions to spreading knowledge about zoo-type animals was enormous. For a man not seeking to establish a legacy (see- Presidents, recent) his ballooned immediately. Life is not primarily about accomplishments but making one's mark certainly isn't irrelevant either. Irwin set a high standard in his niche market and it will be interesting to see how his proteges respond to the call of the public to pick up where he left off.

A stingray! Crikey. One wonders if after getting impaled Irwin told the ray, "You're alright little fella."


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