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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pentax Spokesman Steve Irwin Dead at 44

Photo: BBC

"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, a sometime spokesman for Pentax cameras, died doing what he loved. He was snorkeling off the coast of Queensland, filming a special ironically entitled "Ocean's Deadliest," when a stingray drove its barbed tail into his heart. Irwin was well known for his risk-taking behavior around dangerous animals, especially crocodiles.

Stingray attacks are rare, and even more rarely are they deadly. Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, said, "It's like me getting killed by a poodle." An expert in stingray injuries said it would have been exactly like being stabbed in the heart with a knife. Hanna called Irwin a "great conservationist" and noted that he was responsible for the surging popularity of wildlife shows on television. Bill Campbell, President of Discovery Networks, which aired "The Crocodile Hunter," called Irwin "one of our planet's most passionate conservationists."

Pentax launched a TV campaign featuring Irwin in November of 1999. He was 44.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON with information from USA Today


Blogger Kevin said...

I always had a problem with his television persona. It seemed like he treated animals as toys, to play with as he saw fit. Don't wrestle the protect its living space and admire it from afar.

However, he apparently did lots of good as a conservationist, and of course his death is a real tragedy for his friends and family.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Jernej said...

From what I've heard from another conservationist who worked with Irwin on a project, his off-the-air personality couldn't be further from his public image. He was apaprently very "ordinary" untill cameras started recording.

He certainly was an entertainer...

8:24 AM  
Blogger Dave New said...

He seemed to spawn a whole series of "me too" shows -- Zaboomafoo comes to mind -- a show aimed at exciting children with the idea of romping freely with all sorts of odd animals.

To me, those kind of staged exhibitions seemed strained, a kind of over-acting both on the part of the actors and the animals, with crazy, zoomed, and/or canted camera angles, etc.

I guess it all plays into the idea that the current generation of post-Sesame Street children purportedly have the attention span of a gnat. I know that my 10 and 12 year old grandkids never just watch a TV show, they are always engaged in playing gameboys or other physical/mental activities at the same time, multi-tasking to the max.

Come to think of it, the passive TV watching (for hours at a time) of my generation probably wasn't much better, but in a different kind of way.

Maybe I'm just getting too old to put up with all the jangly presentation on TV these days. I tend to watch less and less of it, using TiVo to record the one or two shows I bother with (Red Green being one of them -- make what you will of that, and NASCAR being the other, currently as a bonding exercise with my grandson -- he just wants to see the wrecks [don't we all?]).

4:07 PM  
Blogger Ken Tanaka said...

The three or four Steve Irwin shows I've seen seemed to be 85% animal daredevil/look-at-me/Nascar fan-oriented and 15% educational. (My current gold-standard in educational nature programming is PBS's "Nature" series.) Perhaps in an age when so many kids seem to be "diagnosed" with A.D.D. (hmmm..) it's the only way to get them to pay attention for more than a minute or two.

Nevertheless it's clear that Irwin did make an impact on many people and, more substantially, that he was an energetic proponent for natural conservation. Earth has lost one of its most vociferous and thoughtful advocates, something it can not afford to lose often. I hope that Irwin's wife and, eventually, his children are inclined and able to carry his mission forward.

9:43 PM  
Blogger dyathink said...

The first time i saw him i was appalled. i thought, WHO is this manic whack-o? But after that, i noticed that whenever i happened to see him on TV, i stopped what i was doing to watch for awhile. He was sort of irresistable that way. i didn't admire him necessarily. But his vigor, energy and enthusiasm about the natural world was contagious and he got his message across. i won't say he ever made me want to cozy up to one of the pit vipers that occasionally slither through my front yard or pet the tarantulas that i find huddled in the corner of the stairs but i do know that he had a way of showing us that there's something thrilling about the wildness of what's still around us and that preserving what's left is in the best interest of us all. Love him or hate him, he clearly found his way into a lot of hearts of all ages in all parts of the world. i was greatly saddened to hear of his passing.

12:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


filming a special ironically entitled "Ocean's Deadliest,"

Where's the irony? Isn't this the opposite of irony?

3:37 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"Isn't this the opposite of irony?"

I suppose it is if you interpret the title literally. I see the title as sensationalism--an exaggeration for effect--which make its actual non-irony ironic. If ya follow.


10:28 AM  

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