With a rugged fearlessness coupled with childlike boisterousness, Aussie naturalist Steve Irwin burst into the wildlife documentary scene with an exuberant "Crikey!" when his first one-hour documentary entitled Crocodile Hunter first broadcast in 1992. Born on February 22, 1962 to naturalists Bob and Lyn Irwin, Steve Irwin's involvement in all things ecological seemed predestined. His parents founded the Australia Zoo, which has since come under the younger Irwin's leadership -- with the assistance of his wife Terri Irwin, who has been a co-conspirator/co-star on most of Irwin's documentaries since the couple married in 1992. As for his Crocodile Hunter series, over 50 episodes were made and led to the equally successful Croc Files series of documentaries. As Irwin's star power rose with the popularity of his documentaries, it seemed natural to try to transfer his enthusiastic, gung-ho personality into box-office gold -- and hence the 2002 pseudo-documentary/adventure comedy Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course was born. While the film did a little better than break-even, it didn't enjoy the kind of success that the TV series had, leading Irwin to continue his investigation for other avenues to spread his ecological and preservation messages across the globe. Tragically, Irwin's life was cut short in the summer of 2006, when he was struck through the heart by a stingray during the filming of a television special.
Biography by Ryan Shriver
- Grew up at his parents' Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, where he helped with the daily feeding and care of the animals.
- By age 9 was catching crocodiles in the rivers of North Queensland alongside his father.
- The only animals he feared were parrots.
- Took over management of his parents' park, renamed the Australia Zoo, in 1991.
- Met his future wife when she attended a crocodile demonstration at his zoo in 1991; their honeymoon was spent filming the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter.
- In the 2002 feature film The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, he and his wife played themselves.
- Was killed in 2006 when a poisonous barb from a stingray punctured his heart.
- Irwin's father turned down the offer of a state funeral for his son, saying, "He was just an ordinary bloke, and wants to be remembered as an ordinary bloke." The family had a private funeral, and then a public memorial service was held for him at Australia Zoo and televised throughout the world.
- The Australian government bought land on Cape York Peninsula and designated it the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve as a permanent memorial to him.
- Beginning in 2007, Australia Zoo began celebrating Steve Irwin Day every year on November 15th.