The Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, was known as a man who was a little bit crazy and a lot more brave and enthusiastic than he was nuts. With a personality that was arguably unmatched on television, he took his love of animals and created a show about conserving wildlife and turned it into one of the most popular programs in the world.
Irwin will always be remembered for the popular phrase “Crikey!” and unfortunately, he’ll also be remembered for dying far too soon when he was oddly bitten by a stingray, doing the job he loved to do. Now gone, but not forgotten, his two kids, Robert and Bindi, are taking over as the newest sensations in wildlife conservation and keeping Irwin’s legacy alive.
But, how much did we not know about one of the most popular television stars of the early 2000’s? Better yet, how much did we know but forgot because we’re often so focused on how he died? There are so many things Steve Irwin — and for that matter, his kids — have offered the world that it would be a shame not to remind fans of their contributions.
Below is a list of 15 things that most fans either didn’t know or don’t remember about the Crocodile Hunter. The Irwin Family is one of the most interesting in the world and a lot of people have no idea how interesting they really were and still are.
15. Grew Up In A Zoo
It seems natural that someone who spent their childhood in a zoo would be apt to spend their entire adulthood working with animals of all shapes and sizes. That described Steve Irwin’s interest in his line of work to a tee.
Irwin came by his love of animals honestly. His dad was a wildlife expert and his field was herpetology (the study of reptiles). His mom was also a wildlife rehabilitator so Irwin was handling multiple species from childhood. Irwin was still a young boy when his family opened the Beerwah Reptile Park in 1970 in Australia. Irwin grew up working there, running the park and feeding the animals. He eventually became the owner and named the part the Australia Zoo. There literally wasn’t a time that Steve Irwin wasn’t working with animals throughout his entire life.
14. His Zoo Is Where He Met Terri
One of the most important parts of Irwin’s life, his show, and his success was his wife, Terri. She was the backbone of the program and she too had a love of animals that was almost unmatched.
Getting to know animals early on in her life, her father ran a trucking business and he often brought home injured animals he’d come across on the road. She eventually turned that interest in animals into the opening of Cougar Country, that name she gave her facility that helped to rehabilitate foxes, raccoons, bobcats, bears, and cougars before releasing them back into the wild. That led her to a trip to the Australia Zoo in 1991 where she saw a Steve Irwin crocodile show.
13. Their Honeymoon Got Them A TV Show
If you had to take one guess as to what the honeymooners did after they got married, what would it be? You likely wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they spent their first days as a married couple traveling Australia and trapping crocodiles for relocation, would you?
When they got the call to come help a croc, they dropped everything, traveled to Queensland, and were filmed helping this crocodile. Everyone was in shock watching Steve Irwin work. Here was a guy who had no acting training and doing nothing more than he did all his life but his infectious behavior was too interesting not to watch. One documentary turned into a second show and Animal Planet decided to pick up The Crocodile Hunter as a regular series.
12. Irwin Believed Enthusiasm Sold His Show
Animal Planet wasn’t interested in a show about catching crocodiles. The TV network was interested in how Steve Irwin caught crocodiles. His enthusiasm for his work and his personality were infectious and it was hard not to watch. Irwin understood this too.
When asked by Scientific American about why he believed the show was so successful, Irwin said, “You know what I reckon it is? My belief is that what comes across on the television is a capture of my enthusiasm and my passion for wildlife… As the audience, I want you to come with me, right? So when I’m talking to the camera, I’m talking to you, in your living room.”
11. Bindi Has A Fitness DVD
Steve Irwin had two children. One was a son named Robert and the other a daughter named Bindi. Both have gone on to follow in their father’s footsteps by working with animals but Bindi has taken things even further with her audience by expanding into different areas.
With a young fanbase, Bindi believes being active and healthy is important so she put out a Fitness DVD and was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. She is aware that kids will look up to her and follow her lead so it was important to set an example by showing the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and trying something that is out of your comfort zone.
It seems a bit out there when trying to connect the dots between animal conservation and a fitness program but it’s probably not as out there as one might think. The Irwins had to be in incredible shape to do what they were doing. Bindi just connected what she believed were logical dots. Not for nothing, it’s helped her amass a pretty good sum of money.
10. Robert Irwin Is A Professional Photographer
Steve Irwin’s son, Robert, has picked up where Steve left off by working with animals and continuing work on the zoo. Where Robert has taken things one step further than Steve did is his love of professional photography and capturing these amazing animals in the most stunning of visuals.
You can see Robert’s work at www.robertirwinphotos.com and quite frankly, the photos are amazing. He has his own gallery at the Australia Zoo, he has judged the National Geographic Kids Photo Contest and been recognized in many photography competitions. It helps that he’s so involved in the arenas that his photos are seen but the work itself would have gotten noticed even if he wasn’t.
Under the “About” section of the website, it is also mentioned that, “Robert has been involved in Logie and Emmy nominated shows Wild but True and Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors, published his own book series, as well as countless media appearances. Most recently, traveling to New York to be on the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.”
9. He Knew A Bite Was Good For TV
For people who watched the show, many fans thought Irwin was legitimately nuts. Why would he be so willing to put his neck on the line every episode and risk getting bitten by one of these animals for a TV show? Irwin was careful while he worked but he also had a secret. He knew that every once and a while, getting bitten was good for the show.
Irwin told ABC Australia, “Now and again I do get bitten … And it’s that, you know, that sense of morbidity that people do have. There’s no use sticking your head in the sand and going, ‘Oh, no, they’re only here because, you know, I talk well.’ Nah, man, they wanna see me come unglued.”
8. Afraid Of Parrots
People who were fans or Irwin and his show probably thought he was fearless. After all, how could someone do what he did and be afraid of these animals?
For the most part, Irwin wasn’t afraid, but he was fascinated and educated. That said, one type of animal did bother him, and those animals were parrots. For some reason, Irwin believed these birds had it out for him and every time he came near one, it would try to bite him. Amazingly, that didn’t stop him from trying to overcome that fear and he worked and worked at getting closer to parrots so that he could be better at handling them without getting bitten.
7. Terri Is Rumored To Be Marrying Russell Crowe
The two have been friends for years and after Steve’s death, they became even closer but the tabloids have been linking them together for years. Speculation is that they may, in fact, be planning a secret wedding, but both are still denying rumors that there is any romance at all between the two.
Terri has said that she would like to remarry and do so in the outback and the two are often seen together at events, most of their friends suggesting it wouldn’t be a surprise if they eventually did hook up. Russell did say once of Terri, “The thing is Terri Irwin is quite frankly one of the most fabulous women on the planet. She is a beautiful person, an intelligent woman, so hard working, so honorable.”
6. His Proposal Was A Bit Out Of The Ordinary
When Irwin and Terri got engaged, it wasn’t fancy. In fact, it was the opposite of fancy. But, what else can you expect from The Crocodile Hunter? He wore the same clothes every day and wrestled with reptiles. But, his lack of fancy didn’t make his proposal to Terri any less special.
Terri retells the story by saying, “He came to see me in Oregon, and then I went back to see him in Australia, and we just worked.” The two worked everywhere together and non-stop all the time. They would wind up exhausted, smelly and dirty and in pain for all the things they tried to cram into one day. After an especially long day of cutting down a tree, Steve says, “So what do you reckon, you want to get married?”
5. He Saved His Best Friend’s Life
Irwin didn’t only save animals. Apparently, there were times that he had to save his friends too. There’s a story told by a close friend or Irwin’s that on one occasion, he was grabbed by a crocodile unexpectedly. The croc’s name was Graham and the 12-foot, 600 kilos normally friendly animal decided to change his attitude one day.
His bottom teeth were in the back of Steve’s friend’s leg and he dragged him into the water and started death rolling the poor guy. Just as Steve’s friend thought his time on earth was over, he feels a punch in the head, which wasn’t actually a punch but the crocs tail swingin around and smacking him. Steve Irwin had jumped on the back of the croc, crammed a stick in his mouth and kept him occupied just long enough for both he and Steve to scurry out of there. His friend has suggested that this is only one of the many times Steve has saved his life.
4. Bindi Made Television History
Steve Irwin wasn’t the only amazing person in his family. Many know that his wife and kids were into the same animal conservation as Irwin was and Bindi blossomed into a real television star. She may not be as popular today as she once was but she’s still a huge hit with kids and many fans around the world.
One of the shows Bindi starred in earned her a Daytime Emmy Award in 2008. At the time, she was only 10-years-old. It also made her the youngest person to ever receive an Emmy Award. The little girl was made to be a superstar and from the moment she was allowed to, she was following in her father’s footsteps. Her work was recognized as the best in her category. It’s a pretty cool honor and probably something Steve Irwin never envisioned when he started his show by accident.
3. Made A Pact To Never Stop Filming
One of the things that was so interesting about Steve Irwin — and in a way very ominous in respect to his death — is that he and his cameraman made a pact long before Irwin died that if either one of them were to ever get injured or hurt that they would need to keep filming no matter what. Irwin wanted everything documented.
It is because of this pact and for that reason that Justin Lyons (the camera operator) had the footage he did of Irwin being stabbed by the stingray. Lyons also believed that Irwin was going to be fine and had he known something more serious had happened right away, he might have reacted differently. Irwin’s entire death and the attempts to save his life were filmed.
2. Final Words Were…
Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray that stabbed him hundreds of times thinking Irwin’s shadow was a tiger shark. Stingrays are not normally known to attack humans but in this rare instance, Irwin was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he and his cameraman were trying desperately to get back to a medic when Irwin said to his long-time friend, “I’m Dying”.
He had a two-inch cut in his chest that came from the stingray’s tail. He didn’t panic, he wasn’t frantic, he simply knew what had happened and he realized he was going to pass away. He simply stated what he knew to be the truth and passed on. His wife Terri has a video of his death that has never been released to the public.
1. Doctors Believed His Death Could Have Been Avoided
There is an interesting theory out there that Irwin could have lived had he decided to react differently to being stung. Reports have surfaced by a doctor named Dr. Gabe Mirkin that had Irwin not pulled out the barb that stung him, he might have made it to a medical facility.
The barb was acting like a plug and Irwin instinctively pulled it out which caused him to bleed to death. It wasn’t the sting or any kind of venom that killed Steve Irwin, it was the fact that the stingray’s barb acted like both a knife and a plug. When he pulled it out he caused all sorts of additional damage and that’s what eventually killed him.
Rumors are that the news was devastating to his family and left his widowed wife Terri “going through hell.”
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