Monday, September 04, 2006

Farewell To a Real Aussie Bloke

Photo by Heath Missen

I woke up this morning to the stunning news of Steve Irwin's death by a stingray attack. I'm still shocked by his death.

When I moved from Australia to the United States, I was surprised by Irwin's popularity among Americans. He was definitely our best Ambassador to the world. He represents real Aussies who live to have fun and sometimes take risky adventures.

In Southeast Texas, we are surrounded by wildlife and sea creatures. You can feed your whole family on crabbing. You just need to take your net to the right spot on the river to have a nice crab dinner.

Between watching Irwin's adventures on Animal Planet and having alligators in this part of the country, I'm now more informed about those wild animals. You learn to respect their territories and how to get along with them. But, never put your guard down. This is what Irwin taught us in his TV show and documentaries.

Some people criticized Irwin for putting his kids in harm's ways because of his passion for wildlife. I don't think Irwin was ever careless with his safety or his kids'. He many times pushed the envelope to fulfill his mission as a naturalist and wildlife preservationist. However, I don't think he ever considered bringing harm to his kids or the animals around him.

When I was crying this morning after I heard of his death, Mark reminded me that Irwin died doing what he loved the most. It's weird that he died while filming a segment for a new documentary called "Ocean's Deadliest." Until the last minute in his life, he tried to teach us about the animals that surround us. The evidence is today's sudden interest in stingray facts and habits. It's another reminder of how little we know about the different creatures living with us on this planet.

It will be difficult for another person to fill his shoes. Maybe when his daughter gets older, she could carry her dad's passion and message to love nature and wildlife.

I give my condolences to his family and friends. He will be missed.

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