Steve Irwin: Australian Hero

I was recently lucky enough to visit Australia Zoo in Queensland, Australia. The trip was my wife’s idea as a present for my daughter’s sixth birthday. She had been a fan of Bindi Irwin for a few years, and, seeing as though the zoo is only about two and a half hours by car from my house, we thought it was time to make the trip and check out the zoo for ourselves.

And wow, what an experience it was. I haven’t been to a zoo since I was a little boy (I’m 38 now). I have been to Seaworld and Dreamworld on the Gold Coast numerous times, both of which have animals on display (polar bears at Seaworld and tigers at Dreamworld being the main attractions). So I went in, not totally knowing what to expect.

We arrived early, not long after opening. There were very few visitors arriving when we did, and we had prepaid our tickets, so we were able to go straight in. It took us the entire day to wander around the zoo, having a good look at all the animal, seeing the crocodile show (which was shorter than I imagined it would be), and having lunch (which we brought with us). The highlight for me were the rhinos and giraffes. Giraffes, you say? Yep. They were incredible. I had absolutely no idea how big they actually were! We were lucky enough to arrive at the African enclosure at feeding time and were able to watch a keeper hand feed a massive male. He must have stood well over 5 metres tall. There were a few females, a one year old and two six month old giraffes as well. Amazing creatures.

There were tigers, cheetahs (which weren’t on display, but we were lucky enough to see the keepers walking them close by to the zoo’s edge), red pandas, snakes, lizards, crocs, alligators, kangaroos, wombats, all manner of creatures.

At the end of the long, tiring day (it was hot), we made our exit through the gift shop, buying up heaps of toys for the kids. We also bought a ‘Crocodile Hunter’ DVD for my daughter, who hadn’t seen a lot of Steve Irwin.

We went back to our motel and popped on the DVD while we put the toddler to sleep. I had forgotten who much enthusiasm Steve Irwin has for animals and conservation. Calling it a passion I think would be understating the depth of feeling he clearly has for the Australia ecosystem. An obsession would be coming closer to the mark.

Most people would remember Steve for his presenting style – grabbing a deadly snake by the tail, picking it up, saying ‘crikey, would you look at the size of this fella! Ohh, he’s angry too!’ But I think to remember him simply for this is doing him an injustice. His presenting style brought him to the attention of Australia and the world, but it was his conservation work that will be his lasting legacy. Through Irwin’s tireless efforts, he reminded everyone that wildlife conservation is not only the responsibility of governments and conservation groups, but it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure the beautiful world we live in is preserved for all the creatures that inhabit it.

Irwin owned large tracts of land in not only Australia, but America, Asia and Africa. These areas were and still are used for assisting endangered and threatened species move back from the brink of extinction and creating viable breeding stock for future generations.

After Irwin’s untimely death, his family, lead by widow Terri and daughter Bindi, have carried on what will now be considered the Irwin legacy. Bindi became the star of her own animal show, with Terri playing the backup. Youngest son Bob appears her and there, and has a range of books called ‘Dino Hunter’ with him as the star. The zoo is beautifully maintained and a pleasure to be in. Wildlife Warriors, formerly known as the Steve Irwin Foundation, continues to fight for the preservation of the natural environment for animals.

He may have been controversial to some, but the awareness Steve Irwin brought to people of the plight of animals and the environment, is, and will always be, the greatest legacy he left us.

More information can be found here:

http://www.wildlifewarriors.org.au/

I am not connected to this site or foundation in any way. I simply rediscovered my love of animals via a visit to Australia Zoo and have the greatest respect for the work Steve Irwin, his family, and the Wildlife Warriors do.

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