MOVING FAREWELL TO WILDLIFE WARRIOR

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MOVING FAREWELL TO WILDLIFE WARRIOR

 user 2006-09-21 at 9:36:00 am Views: 44
  • #16476

    Moving farewell to ‘wildlife warrior’
    This
    was a made-for-television memorial service which brought together the
    two contrasting worlds which Steve Irwin occupied: the expansive
    wilderness of the Australian Outback, and the extraordinary fame of
    Hollywood.Sure, there were tributes from stars like Russell Crowe and
    Cameron Diaz, and a deftly-worded eulogy from Prime Minister John
    Howard.But the real emotional power came from the family and friends of
    Steve Irwin, like Wes Mannion, his mate at the Australia Zoo, who broke
    down in tears as he remembered the day when the Crocodile Hunter saved
    his life.There was music from a choir wearing the Crocodile Hunter’s
    trademark khaki uniform, and at one stage three elephants were brought
    into the Crocoseum arena, the poolside stadium where Steve Irwin
    delighted fans with his wildlife antics.But then he always said that
    the animals should be the stars.The biggest cheer was reserved for his
    daughter, eight-year-old Bindi, who already has her own television show
    and is set to follow in her father’s perilous footsteps.Clearly, she is
    a natural performer and a youngster of extraordinary poise.The service
    was interspersed with film of Steve Irwin in action, grappling with
    crocodiles, staring down snakes – his unique blend of adventurism and
    bravado which made him a global sensation.The service reached its
    climax with Steve Irwin’s white pick-up truck being loaded with
    croc-hunting gear, and then driven slowly from the arena.Then staff
    from the Australia zoo laid a floral tribute, spelling out his
    catchphrase: “Crikey.”It is easy to be cynical, but the effect was
    genuinely moving.And the show was not over yet. Anthony Field, the
    blue-shirted member of that other great Australian global phenomenon
    The Wiggles, leapt energetically onto stage shouting “Croc Rules”.

    Potty homage
    This
    has been an extraordinary couple of weeks to be in Australia, in no way
    comparable to the wave of emotion that convulsed the UK after the death
    of Princess Diana, but fascinating nonetheless.Much of the reaction
    seems to have been kid-driven by the Crocodile Hunter’s young army of
    adoring fans.And perhaps some of it stemmed from a sense of guilt: that
    Irwin received greater approbation outside of Australia, certainly at
    the start of his television career, than at home.Certainly, there has
    been a very public re-evaluation of his lifetime’s
    accomplishments.Prior to his death, I doubt if many Australians knew
    the full extent of his conservation work: the fact that he financed so
    many projects from the dollars generated by his television success. His
    claim to be a “wildlife warrior” was no idle boast.Though it did not
    make any of the television specials and retrospectives, one of my
    favourite tributes came on a radio phone-in show on the afternoon that
    Steve Irwin was killed.A young mother chirpily recalled the day that
    her young infant managed to perform potty duties for the first time
    without any mishaps.In celebration, she told her proud young son that
    he could call anyone in the world to share the good news.”I want to
    call the Croc Hunter,” came the cry