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Thursday, 20 June 2024

The cultural legacy of Steve Irwin


While Paul Hogan’s ‘Crocodile Dundee’ character was tough-guy who wrestled with crocodiles, Steve Irwin was the real-life version. Steve Irwin is fondly remembered as one of Australia’s most iconic people and his tragic death due to a stingray attack left a major scar in the Australia culture psyche.

Known as his nickname “The Crocodile Hunter”, Steve Irwin wore many hates in relations to Australian wildlife. He was primarily a zookeeper, wildlife educator, and environmental conservationist. While he sensationalised dangerous encounters with crocodiles, Irwin’s work was always focused on celebrating and protecting the diversity of animal life in Australia, teaching people to learn about and appreciate the animals rather than be afraid of them.

Steve Irwin quickly became an international phenomenon for his signature wrestling with crocodiles, holding their powerful jaws shut and commenting on “what a beauty” they were. His main stint in the public spotlight was due to his TV show named ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ which aired from 1996 to 2007.

He and his wife Terri co-owned and operated Australia Zoo. Irwin’s death in 2006 shocked the world and was in no small part due to the fact that fatal attacks by stingrays are almost unheard of.

While many cite that Irwin died doing what he loved, his death was also a lesson about the unpredictable nature of encounters with wild animals. Even in death, Irwin was teaching the world about wildlife, and ironically the show he was filming was going to be called ‘Ocean’s Deadliest’.

Steven Irwin has since been memorialised in a variety of ways, and the family that survives him has continued his legacy in promoting animal conservation. Even though he is no longer alive, Steve Irwin’s spirit lives on in the form of the Australian public consciousness and around the world.

Ebony Stump
Ebony Stump
Ebony was a breakfast radio producer for seven years before deciding she was much better suited to a job that didn't require she be in bed by 7.30pm. She loves tracking down celebrities for a quick chat, and has spoken to Lady Gaga, Chris Rock, Usher and Merlin from Big Brother.

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