The Croc Hunter has died

The Croc Hunter has died

It’s one of those things you always said would happen, but didn’t really believe it. After all, it’s on television, the land of make-believe and fake blood. Unfortunately, it did happen. Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, died when he was fatally stabbed in the heart by a stingray.

Irwin, 44, was killed almost instantly when the stingray stabbed him in the heart with its poisonous 20cm barb as he snorkelled off Port Douglas, in north Queensland, yesterday morning. ... “The footage shows him swimming in the water, the ray stopped and turned and that was it,” said boatowner Peter West, who viewed the footage afterwards.

“There was no blood in the water, it was not that obvious ... something happened with this animal that made it rear and he was at the wrong position at the wrong time and if it hit him anywhere else we would not be talking about a fatality.”

For many non-Australians, Irwin had come to symbolize what we find fascinating about the country, a certain kind of adventurous joy and infectious love of life combined with an untamed wildness. Australia is almost like the last frontier of wilderness, an extension of the Old West, and its people are the pioneers living there.

I know many Australians don’t like the stereotype advanced by Irwin (and “Crocodile Dundee” before him), but they should embrace it. I can think of a lot of worse stereotypes.

As for Irwin himself, it’s sad that many people will remember him for the way he died or the scandal when he took his newborn child into an alligator pen, which someone people saw as a publicity stunt that put his child at risk. I’ll always remember joking with friends, in a fake Australian accent, whispering, “Very dangerous…. Let’s get closer!” And I could just picture him saying it with a big grin on his face.

While many people love animals, those that are dangerous to Man, especially the reptiles, have been vilified and often killed for their innate dangerousness, even when they are not a present threat. Irwin gave us a new perspective, finding beauty in what God had created, just as they are. Sad to see that end.

Pray for the repose of his soul and for his wife and two young kids.

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