Crikey . . .

Crocodile-Hunter extraordinaire Steve Irwin died yesterday in a freak accident involving a stingray. If you didn’t know, he was the Australian dare-devil environmentalist that appeared non-stop on the Discovery Channel, wrestling crocodiles, poking venomous snakes with sticks, etc.

My dad worked in Australia for a year in 1993 and, when he came back, found Steve Irwin on late, late night TV (one of his first shows). My dad loved watching this guy manhandle horrifically poisonous snakes with nonchalance. For him, I think, Irwin was a mix of the Australian cultural bravado he saw in his time down under and the familiarity with sometimes-dangerous wildlife my dad has from growing up on a farm. I don’t know if Dad read about Irwin’s death . . . but I know he’ll be sad to hear it.

Stingrays aren’t particularly dangerous at all (there are only 17 known recorded deaths by stingray), especially when you compare stingrays to the leading cause of animal-related deaths in the world, crocodiles.

On a random note, Steve Irwin’s death is one of the only things recently I’ve seen reported prominently in the NYT, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and People liked this guy.

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