When I first started my career in zoo education in 1995, at the tender age of 12, my biggest inspiration was a man named Jack Hanna. Similar to myself, he had been working in zoos most of his life. There was not a single thing he wanted to do more than work with animals. And that was an inspiration to me. More than anything, I wanted to educate the public and animals and the conservation of those animals. Then, in 1999 a new face had made its way on to the TV screen and I was inspired even more. It was the always happy face of Steve Irwin.
It was yesterday morning when I got the news about Steve. My mom called and told me something and I didn't really know how to react. She told me Steve Irwin was dead. She told me he had been killed by a stingray in Australia. And according to those on board the ship with him, "He came on top of the stingray and the stingray's barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart." A freak accident killed one of my biggest inspirations. A man that many people thought was crazy but I would venture to say was one of the greatest voices for zoo education and conservation ever to live.
Many people over the years have made fun of Steve Irwin and the work he was doing. They made fun of him because they thought he was crazy. And in a way he was. He was crazy about animals. That much love for Earth's creatures is a rare find in this day and age. Humans, in general, have done more to destroy the Earth's inhabitants and to save. Steve Irwin was one of those rare humans. In all his efforts, his intentions remain steadfast.
In his early days, Steve was part of a crocodile relocation program in Australia. And this program became the basis for his first show. Everytime he was seen doing this job on the show, his reasoning was always the same. He would say he was moving the crocs to keep them safe from people. And it wasn't the other way around. He always found the beauty in all things.
In another documentary Steve did on the world's most poisonous snakes, he can in contact with the African spitting cobra. Even when he was faced down with this deadly snakes venom burning his skin, he made time to comment on the beauty of the creature. Steve Irwin loved animals more than anything.
I guess in a way it is fitting that he should go like this. It is a very sad day for the world of zoo educators and conservationist. They have lost one of their best advocates. And so has the animal kingdom. Jack Hanna even commented that Steve knew more about reptiles and animals than anyone he had ever met. Steve respected and loved the animals he worked with. He always took the precautions he needed to take. And a freak accident has done him in.
Above all things, Steve Irwin should be remembered for all the work he did in his field. And that work should continue in the hands of like-minded people. There will never be another Steve Irwin. But I think Steve's memory will live on in the continuation of his good works.