Thursday, 18 November 2010

Australia Zoo

Last Monday 15th November was Steve Irwin Day. It is four years since the Crocodile Hunter died while filming on the Great Barrier Reef and his family decided each year to celebrate his life with a day in his honour. Politicians, entertainers and the general population around here join them in remembering Steve. People wear khaki. There is a ball in his honour and Australia Zoo host a special event.
Like most people, I only knew Steve Irwin through seeing him on TV and hearing a few interviews but I liked him.
During his life Steve attracted a fair deal of criticism and controversy here in Australia. He loved wildlife of all kinds and spent much of his life working for the protection of endangered animals. He didn’t blindly follow the traditional politically correct line of thought regarding conservation. He did not march in the street holding placards or lobby politicians. He acted on his beliefs and he did it his way. He brought wildlife to people’s attention and tried to make us all as enthusiastic about protecting vulnerable creatures as he was. He enjoyed what he did and was passionate about it. In an interview once he was asked if people should feed birds to encourage them into their yards.  He said  that he believed it was a good thing - that sort of interaction between people and wildlife benefited both. It enriched the person’s life and created a stronger bond with nature and desire to help and protect wildlife.

He was “larger than life” always upbeat and used phrases like “Crikey” and “Blimey”. Some Australians cringed and saw him as an “Okker”, embarrassed that the world may think we all run around in khaki shorts wrestling crocodiles. Others saw him as “True Blue” the archetypal Australian that few of us will ever be.

After his death, it seems, everyone realised what a special person had been in their midst. Strange how often that happens.

He put his money where his mouth was. With the income from his documentaries and the zoo, he bought up parcels of land to preserve habitat. Iron Bark Station Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, which manages 3,450 acres of wildlife sanctuary and other large tracts of land throughout Australia were purchased for the sole purpose of preserving them as wildlife habitat.

He established an organisation called Wildlife Warriors. Along with Australia Zoo, there is the Australian Wildlife Hospital, tiger conservation in Sumatra, elephant conservation in Sumatra and Cambodia, orangutan conservation in Sumatra, Tasmanian devil conservation, cheetah conservation in South Africa and whale conservation and research.

His wife Terri and children Bindi and Bob carry on his work and his vision. They continue to fund these programs and even expand the conservation efforts.

Australia Zoo is the Irwin’s home and they say the staff and animals are like an extended family. You only have to visit the place to realise this is not just a publicity blurb. The grounds are immaculate. The workers are happy and friendly whether they are tending the gardens, picking up animal droppings, selling food or presenting one of the many shows. The animals seem very happy too. Their enclosures are huge and mimic their homelands. Their needs come first and viewing of the animals is scheduled around their daily routine.

It’s a couple of years since I’ve been there. We like to take our grandchildren when they come to visit. Next time I go I’ll try to take some pictures of their garden not just the grandkids, but I can’t promise.


  1. I can't believe it's been four years already Missy, you are right, he was a very special man. I didn't wear khaki on the right day, but I can certainly do it today.

  2. Oh, I did not realize it has been four years since Steve Irwin passed away already! Time just flies. What a heartwarming tribute to him. I did not know he had done so many things for the animals he loved. How wonderful that his work is being carried on. Thank you for the information.

  3. I just commented but not sure if it got through so here it is again. Missy, this is a very touching post. I have always enjoyed watching Steve's show. Thanks for sharing the part about him which wasn't shown on TV.

  4. What a nice tribute to Steve and his family. I always watched his adventures and thought highly of him, regardless of how wacky he could be at times. It is so good to hear nice things about him.

  5. (a) Can't believe it has been four yeats.
    (b) I only really found out about what he did after he died.
    (c) Visiting Australia Zoo is on my Bucket List

    (d) The loss of our Australian slang is a great sadness. My little grandsons both say Butt, never Bum! It is a shame that some of us find it so cringe worthy.
    (e) I am going to try to use more of the Australian vernacular on my blog.
    (f) Thanks Missy for the post.

  6. Thanks for your insight for your fantastic posting. I’m glad I have taken the time to see this.
    australia zoo


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