On September 2, Steve Irwin, the self-styled “crocodile hunter” (“crocodile annoyer” would have been more like it) was killed when a stingray barb pierced his heart. Oddly, Mr. Irwin was not pestering the ray when it killed him. I heard on the radio that since Europeans came to Australia, only 10 people have been killed by stingrays. For Mr. Irwin to meet his end like this is rather like an astronomer stepping outside his observatory and getting beaned by a meteorite.
What I disliked about Mr. Irwin (beside the fact that he was an anti-hunter) was that his antics were mostly about him, and not the animals. As was said about the demented Timothy Treadwell, he didn’t accord them any respect. Yanking a snake off the ground by its tail might have entertained him and his audience, but I doubt if the snake appreciated the honor. Snakes, and other dangerous animals, are to be let alone. Unless you want to hunt them, and it’s legal. But they are not stooges for someone who is starved for attention.
There was also a certain amount of b.s. to Mr. Irwin. According to a quote of his: “I’ve worked with more dangerous snakes than anyone in the world and I’ve never been bitten. It’s a gift.”
Well crikey, mate, I don’t think so. From 1947 to 1985, a quiet, self-effacing Floridian named Bill Haas operated the Miami Serpentarium where he milked deadly snakes (more than 60 species) 70 to 100 times a day, every day. He was bitten 170 times. There is no way of knowing how many lives he saved. And he never had a television show.