Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Steve & Me by Terri Irwin

I finally got around to reading Terri Irwin's book Steve & Me. (See, I told you I was going a bit retro these days!) Remember Steve "the crocodile hunter" Irwin, Australia's self proclaimed animal conservationist? His life ended tragically while filming a documentary with Philippe Cousteau (Jacques grandson) aboard his research vessel "Croc One". While swimming with a stingray, its barb got caught in Steve's chest, ending his life swiftly and without warning.

But then, that part is debatable. He had told Terri several times that if anything happened to him, he wanted her to keep the Australian zoo open. He spoke of death as if the premonition of it haunted him all of his life. It was that sixth sense he had-knowing that something was going to happen-that kept him so in tuned with wildlife-and subsequently his death.

Steve's life was a testimony to one that literally burned the candle at both ends. Hardly sleeping longer than a few hours each night, he was constantly working to preserve crocodiles or other wildlife, or teach the commoner how to respect, not fear, wildlife. He was driven with a force no one could understand. It was a force that enabled him to burn out each day, doing what few ever get to do or achieve. He was the ultimate thrill junkie, loving father, devoted husband, wildlife spokesperson.

Few understood this passion for life. Many accused him of taking chances-especially with his children. On the heels of Michael Jackson dangling his baby from a balcony, Steve was seen holding his infant son during a croc show which ignited rumors and criticism that ended with the involvement of the family and children services. If the average man did what Steve did, hold their infant while in a pen of crocs, the interference would have been warranted. But we are talking about the Croc Hunter. He did it because he could. He was never reckless or careless-he knew his limits but most important, the limits of the wildlife he engaged in close contact with.

Face it, you nor I would ever want to do what Steve did. He was ferociously involved in saving the most endangered and dangerous animals and reptiles in the world. We needed him. Although that Australian voice excitedly proclaiming "Danger, danger, danger" is gone, the passion in which he met life lives on in his wife, Terri and his children. The zoo hasn't closed. In fact, his 10-year plan has become Terri's baby now, and she is bent on finishing the projects in half that time.

Don't look for Terri to ask for your pity, on the other hand, you will become sympathetic to her loss. Because in the end, it is all of our loss. Steve touched the world, all across the globe, from desert to rainforest, and back to his zoo down under riding the vehicle of passion.

273 pages
Publisher: Simon Spotlight Entertainment
Released 2007
Wildlife Warriors