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Bloviating Zeppelin: Steve On The Barbie

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve On The Barbie

Steve Irwin, age 44, is dead after the spike from a stingray pierced the left front of his chest and into his heart. He leaves behind his wife Terri Irwin, 42, and two children, Bindi Sue (8) and Robert Clarence (3).

Of all radically ironic things, to be killed by the barb of a stingray -- surely a manner of death I had never even remotely imagined for Steve Irwin. I envisioned him succumbing to horrible wounds from, say, a crocodile that managed to catch him unawares; I envisioned him being the victim of the bite from a Black Mamba; but never aquatically.

Some people will likely think, say or write that Irwin got nothing more than what was due him for his history of attempting to "humanize" wild animals, not unlike Timothy Treadwell, the so-called Grizzly Man who was killed at age 46 with his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, 37, when they were both attacked and partially eaten by a brown bear in Alaska's Katmai National Park on October 5th of 2003. In my post, Grizzly Man: Today's Allegory, I wrote that "Treadwell tried to 'understand' the bears -- he wanted to sit down and break croissants and have a nice latte with them. They tolerated him for a while or remained indifferent at best. Until one bear, one day, simply got hungry, and the food chain was complete."

Steve Irwin did not take the "humanization" route; to be sure, he was perceived many times to be the fool, jumping on the backs of crocodiles -- even causing much worldwide consternation when he held his then one-month-old baby, Robert, while feeding a snapping crocodile at his Australian zoo in 2004. His greatest fault may have been the comfort and confidence he felt around wild animals.

Certainly he pushed the envelope and we all, I suppose, knew that one day he would die at the hands (or barb!) of an animal. I guess he knew that as well -- just not suspecting the manner of his final exit. He was an environmentalist and, moreover, put his money into his Australia Zoo in Beerwah on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Watching Steve Irwin was not unlike watching a NASCAR race -- knowing or thinking that something bad may happen -- a guilty thrill. His episode detailing the ten most venomous snakes in Australia -- and he picked them up by the tail? You knew he would be bitten, and he was bitten by snakes on TV (though none were poisonous).

Steve also blazed the TV trail with regard to others coming after him. Certainly, Jack Hanna was the "first" person who brought animals up and close to TV audiences but it was some time before he acquired his own show. Irwin also spawned Jeff Corwin and the other guy (whose name escapes me!) who wrangles snakes. Even the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, owes his place on TV to Steve Irwin.

As my fiance wrote:

Well, he saw an opportunity and ran with it. He was raised by his dad to not have total respect for nature; thought he knew all about animal behavior, but the thing is, guess what? Just like humans are generally the same, we all have our idiosyncrasies -- same with animals. 99 times out of 100 animal behavior can be generally predicted, but you never really know what happened to that stingray last time something big swam over him. He may have had to fight for his life last time, and animals DO have a memory, so in terms of experience, not all stingrays act the same way.

We all knew Steve pushed and sometimes overloaded the envelope. It was why we watched.

But moreover, what about Terri and her two now-fatherless children? Steve should have factored his family into his life. But he was what he was. And Terri knew it, and bought into his life fully. She enabled his actions. Now the children shall not see their father any more. How sad.




Blogger Bushwack said...

My family used to watch this guy on animal planet, I always thought, "There is a man that truly enjoys what he does" I can't say I thought he was too bright, but I admire anyone that gets a chance in life to make a living doing what he loves.
Our prayers are with his family.

Mon Sep 04, 01:59:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Yes, clearly he enjoyed his work and I very much used to enjoy watching him at work. I think it was his absolutely unbridled childish enthusiasm that caught me. At first I thought it was just a trick, a ploy for the cameras. Then I came to think that, when in the wild and tracking and involving himself with various animals, that was the true Steve Irwin.

Sure, he took some major chances and his lifestyle caught up with him. We all knew it would come; I'm sure he did too.

And you're right; I feel for his family and Terri and the children, who must now soldier on without their father. It didn't have to happen. But Terri knew what she bought when she bought into it. The kids had no choice.


Mon Sep 04, 03:54:00 PM PDT  
Blogger ABFreedom said...

He was one smart dude when it come to animals.....but maybe under the sea he was a little out of his element, and it bit him back.... My prayers are also with his family.

Mon Sep 04, 05:30:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

ABF: I watched a recent interview with Jack Hanna, who indicated that he wouldn't have attempted half the things that Irwin did; he said he didn't appear to have that "Sixth Sense" possessed by Steve. He knew his limitations.

But you can only extend those limitations so far. Mammals may intuit your senses and your internal demeanor; I truly believe that many mammals can intuit your mental and physical state and, further, the state of the world in general. Witness the reactions of mammals when earthquakes, for example, having been impending.

It is another thing with reptiles, amphibians, fish and, of course, rays -- those animals with mere ganglions for brains.

I don't believe Steve even remotely saw his demise coming. His card had been played and it was simply his time.

I feel sad for his survivors and, mostly, for the two children he left behind who may have no and/or meagre memories of their father.


Mon Sep 04, 06:42:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Dionne said...

I thought Lone Pony's post described it well in that she talked about how he died doing what he loved. Its sad that his wife and kids are left behind and I think he leaves a void, its very sad. But he died following his dream.

Mon Sep 04, 08:48:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

LMC: quite true, he was doing what he loved and how many of us can say that? On the other hand, when you deal with wild and very dangerous animals and simultaneously push the envelope, sometimes the envelope pushes back. Not so tragic had he been childless; geometrically more tragic now.


Tue Sep 05, 07:04:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Rivka said...

WE loved his work as well. our whole family did. He had a great personality, and the kind of person you would want to hang out with. Even though he was one of those 'environmentalists', we really loved him and it will be a sad loss for my boys.

Thu Sep 07, 06:46:00 PM PDT  

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