Monday, September 04, 2006

`Crocodile Hunter' Irwin dies

`Crocodile Hunter' Irwin dies
Associated Press
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
Published September 4, 2006

BRISBANE, Australia -- Steve Irwin, the Australian television personality and environmentalist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday by a stingray during a diving expedition, Australian media said. He was 44.

Irwin was filming an underwater documentary on the Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Queensland state when the accident occurred, Sydney's The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on its Web site.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. said Irwin was diving near Low Isles near the resort town of Port Douglas, about 1,260 miles north of Brisbane.

A helicopter carrying paramedics flew to the island, but Irwin died from a stingray barb to the heart, ABC reported on its Web site.

Telephone calls to Australia Zoo, Irwin's zoo in southern Queensland, were not immediately answered.

Irwin was famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchphrase "Crikey!" in his television program "Crocodile Hunter," which was first broadcast in Australia in 1992 and has aired around the world on the Discovery Channel.

He rode his image into a feature film and developed the Australia Zoo as a tourist attraction.

Irwin had received some negative publicity. In January 2004 he stunned onlookers at his zoo's reptile park by carrying his 1-year-old son into a crocodile pen during a wildlife show. He tucked the infant under one arm while tossing the 13-foot reptile a piece of meat with the other.

Authorities declined to charge Irwin for violating safety regulations.

Later that year he was accused of getting too close to penguins, a seal and humpback whales in Antarctica while making a documentary. Irwin denied any wrongdoing, and the Australian Environment Department recommended that no action be taken against him.


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