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Thoughts of Steve Irwin

By: Jason Abels – Assistant Director www.tigerhomes.org Animal Sanctuary
Steve Irwin: Wildlife Warrior
Steve Irwin: "Wildlife Warrior"

It is with sadness in my heart that I write this piece with random thoughts of Steve Irwin. As most of you are aware, the world has lost a true hero, a “Wildlife Hero,” or better yet as Steve describes himself, a “Wildlife Warrior.” Truer words have never been spoken. Steve was an amazing man and a real icon for wildlife protection, conservation and awareness. It is just amazing that you can actually mourn someone you never met so much! I am emotionally crushed by his passing. Steve Irwin will forever be immortalized in the hearts of so many; his lessons and aspirations of wildlife conservation will live on, it must!

Any of us, who actually have the privilege of working directly with exotic wildlife, especially the dangerous predators, recognizes the husbandry and handling skills of Steve Irwin. He was just extraordinary at what he did and the way he could “Fire Up” an audience. It did not matter how beautiful or ugly the subject animal, plant or ecosystem was, the audience always felt his sincere passion and love for its protection. Of all the great wildlife educators out there, none can or ever will compare to Steve. He lived and breathed wildlife conservation; it oozed from his pores. His enthusiasm and energy level was second to none. Steve immediately captured the hearts of any one that viewed him. I never met him personally; and I must secretly confess that I always dreamed of one day meeting him in person, and hopefully having him visit us at the www.tigerhomes.org Animal Sanctuary. I am so bummed about his loss and the realization that I will never have the opportunity of meeting him, at least in this lifetime.

As a professional animal handler and zoo keeper, I was always amazed at how smooth Steve was at handling both large and small deadly animals. He was seamless, and made the most difficult situation look carefree and simple. His ability to interact with all sorts of wildlife while speaking to his audience through a camera lens was remarkable. It never mattered what the subject matter was, he was fired-up about it, and as a result, his audience became fired-up about it! By the time Steve was finished speaking, his audience was inspired. He imbedded the plight of countless creatures and declining ecosystems directly into the hearts of so many.

Steve Irwin actually owned and cared for animals of all kinds. It is for this reason that I think Steve was so unique an educator. It is one thing to be a college educated zoologist, anthropologist, naturalist, behaviorist, or scientists, but yet a totally different thing being a hands on animal keeper! He was an expert in the way he interacted with all animals, regardless of their dangerous attributes. In fact, Steve loved animals so much; that he often took additional personal risks in-order to minimize physical and psychological stress to the animals he was working with.

Regardless of your personal opinion on whether or not Steve took to many risks, you must realize that he took these added risks to capture his audience’s attention, to drive home his passionate pleas of conservation. Conservation drove Steve Irwin. Perhaps no other conservationist in the world has impacted the heart and souls of so many, most of them immediately inspired to promote conservation themselves. From child to adult, Steve Irwin, was loved by all. His tragic passing by such a freak accident is a true global loss. There will never be another like Steve Irwin. He lived his life as a true hero and Wildlife Warrior. He will forever be remembered and missed. I do not have the words to describe how sad I am at his passing; this is a tremendous loss of an incredible man. Steve was an inspiration and will forever be a hero in my mind. From the bottom of our hearts, all of us at the Sanctuary send our sincere condolences to his wife, Terry, and their two wonderful children, Bindi and Bob, as well as his entire family and large network of friends and staff at the Australia Zoo. This is a terrible global loss and really SUCKS!

Steve, you will never be forgotten and will forever be remembered as the most passionate, enthusiastic and talented animal handler and wildlife educator. You made the world a better place and your lessons of conservation will always live on. I personally thank you for all that you have taught me.

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