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Croc hunter dies…..What aweful news for animals everywhere

BRISBANE, Australia (CNN)—“Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, the Australian naturalist killed by a stingray on Monday, was filmed removing a poisonous barb from his chest just before he died, according to news reports.

Irwin’s manager John Stainton, who was among the television crew on the reef, said the accident was caught on videotape, according to The Associated Press.

He described the footage of his friend dying as “terrible,” the AP reported.

“It shows that Steve came over the top of the ray and the tail came up, and spiked him (in the chest), and he pulled it out and the next minute he’s gone,” AP reported Stainton as saying.

“That was it. The cameraman had to shut down (after that),” Stainton said.

As fellow countrymen and fans from around the world mourned his death, it was announced that a state funeral for Irwin would be held if his family so chose, an Australian state premier said.

“We will honor Steve Irwin in whatever way his family wants,” said Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, speaking to CNN affiliate Channel Seven.

“ ... We will approach the family and we would obviously be keen to honor him in some sort of way from the Queensland Government point of view, from the state’s point of view, but we would only do that with the family’s approval.”

For the past week, Irwin, 44, had been working on an underwater documentary at Batt Reef in the Great Barrier Reef off Port Douglas in Queensland state.

Bad weather for the past few days had made it impossible to proceed with a planned taping for the Animal Planet channel, so Irwin instead chose Monday to shoot “a couple of soft stories for a new TV show we’re doing,” Stainton said.

“He and the underwater cameraman went out to do some pieces on the reef and coral and stuff good for the kids’ show and, unfortunately, he came out over the top of a stingray that was buried in the sand and the barb went up and hit him in the chest.”

Rescuers put Irwin aboard his research vessel, Croc 1, and attempted to resuscitate him during the 30-minute dash to nearby Lowe Isle, where a medical helicopter was available to take him to a hospital, but the effort proved futile.

The barb had pierced his chest, hospital sources said. News reports say he went into cardiac arrest after he was stung. His body was flown to the city of Cairns.

Irwin was director of the Australian Zoo in Queensland. He is survived by his American-born wife, Terri, and their two children, Bindi Sue, 8, and Robert (Bob), 3.

Terri Irwin was told of her husband’s death while on a walking tour in Tasmania, and returned Monday night to the Sunshine Coast with the children.

‘There’s always a risk’
“It’s just one of these bizarre events that really make you take stock of your life,” Animal Planet host Jeff Corwin told CNN. “The reality is, there’s always a risk when you work with wildlife. You do your best to take precautions.”

Fellow animal handler and conservationist Jack Hanna said, “It’s a tragic thing. It’s unbelievable, really. When you think of Steve Irwin, you think of people who are invincible.”

Hanna agreed with Corwin that the accident underscores the danger of working with wild animals.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, when someone is hurt by an animal, it is your fault,” he said. “You have to be careful of that. You have to know what your limits are. What that animal is.

“People use the word dangerous and that sometimes is a word that’s not fair to that animal because the animal has been given the defenses that God gave it, so you have to understand what all that is involved and if you understand that, hopefully nothing will happen.”

Irwin’s exuberant approach to nature conservation and the environment also won him a global following, and he and his wife became well-known figures on international television.

TV viewers loved his outlandish stunts, even though one of them generated controversy.

Many viewers were upset with him two years ago when he held out his infant son as he was feeding a snapping crocodile at his zoo.

In 2003, Irwin spoke to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Australian Story television program about how he was perceived in his home country.

“When I see what’s happened all over the world, they’re looking at me as this very popular, wildlife warrior Australian bloke,” he said. “And yet back here in my own country, some people find me a little bit embarrassing. You know, there’s this—they kind of cringe, you know, ‘cause I’m coming out with ‘crikey’ and ‘look at this beauty.’”

Fund may be established
Discovery Communications, which produces Animal Planet, said it was considering setting up a fund that would accept donations in Irwin’s name to support wildlife protection, education, conservation, Irwin’s zoo and the education of his children.

A sensory garden located outside the company’s Silver Springs, Maryland, headquarters will be renamed in his honor, said Annie Howell, senior vice president of communications for Discovery Communications.

At the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, which has an exhibit where people can safely touch stingrays, marine biologist Ray Davis said stingray barbs are serrated, can reach 12 inches in length and are used as a defensive mechanism.

“The stingray swings its tail up over its back; the barb is then not really laying against the tail but comes out a bit and allows them to slash or jab to try and get the predator away from them.”

Once the barb has pierced the skin, it injects venom, which can be excruciatingly painful, said the vice president of zoological operations, who said he was speaking from experience.

“It can be very crippling,” he said.

But fish venom is heat-sensitive, and relief is almost immediate once the affected area is immersed in near-scalding water, he said.

CNN’s John Vause contributed to this report.


Posted by rosevine69 on 09/05 at 05:27 AM in Celebrity

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