PHILADELPHIA – Five years ago tomorrow Steve Irwin, better known as the crocodile hunter, died as he had lived: messing with a dangerous critter with whom he had no business messing. This time it was a bull stingray, who was minding his own business in waters near the Great Barrier Reef when the Billy Mays of conservationists came barging along.
Quicker than you could say “crickey”—which Mr. Irwin said until he got on everyone’s last nerve—the stingray had rammed its serrated barb into Mr. Irwin’s overeager heart. “C’est la vie, say the old folks. It goes to show you never can tell.”
Around the world‐from deserts to jungles to rain forests‐wildlife could breathe a sigh of relief. That loud-mouthed wanker in the khaki shorts wouldn’t be crashing their parties any more.
In the months following Mr. Irwin’s timely death, his legacy appeared secure. Thousands attended memorial services in his honor, and soon there were reports that several Steve Irwin impersonators had perished while stingray gigging, snake taunting, or alligator wrestling. Mr. Irwin’s daughter Bindi, then 8, launched a singing career; her brother Bob, then 2, hired an agent; and their mother, Terri, then 42, started work on a successful memoir entitled My Steve.
By the second anniversary of Mr. Irwin’s passing, however, the tide had gone out. Internet auction sites were overstocked with Steve Irwin official safari pants, Steve Irwin personal-size port-o-potties, and Steve Irwin alligator jerky. My Steve was slipping down the charts, and fewer people were wearing khaki shorts on Steve Irwin Day, celebreated each year on November 15.
Nevertheless, the Animal Planet is still pimping Mr. Irwin’s legend and recycling his television shows lest we forget his irritating, unhinged mannerisms, his goofy yob face, and his zeal for knocking on doors without being invited.
All that, as Grace Slick observed in another context, “Doesn’t mean shit to a toad.” Mr. Irwin’s legacy will ultimately perch on Elseya irwini, the turtle Mr. Irwin discovered.
How fitting! A creature that is able to breathe out its ass underwater is named after a guy who talked out his ass all the time. From Mr. Irwin’s butt to god’s ear, eh fellow Christians.
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