Now they all follow in his footsteps, making friends with anything scaley, furry, or feathery. Behind the scenes, the Crocodile Hunter was even more extreme. Steve’s family shares his story, carrying on his legacy as one of the world’s zaniest, most beloved men.
People Tuned in to See Steve Irwin Get Bit
Before his death, Steve’s wife, Terri Irwin, talked about the fact that many viewers watched "The Crocodile Hunter" for a voyeuristic ride, waiting for the very moment a venomous snake might bite him. Perhaps, in a similar fashion to the appeal of horror films, people enjoy watching danger knowing it can't hurt them through their flat screens.
She added that, in her opinion, people initially watched the show to see if he would eventually get killed. But Terri was convinced that when people actually watched the show, they found, instead, an interesting story about preserving nature and an engaging personality they want to continue seeing each week on TV.
Daughter Bindi Sue Is Named After a Crocodile
Now a celebrity in her own right, Bindi Irwin grew up surrounded by animals and people who adore them. It is no surprise, then, that she was named after two creatures of the wild. Bindi means “young girl” in the Nyungar language, an aboriginal dialect of southwest Australia spoken by the Noongar people. But Bindi Sue, born in 1998, was also named after two of the couple’s favorite animals.
“Bindi” was actually the name of their favorite crocodile at Australia Zoo, the famous zoo owned by the Irwins. Also, “Sue” pays tribute to the beloved family dog, Sui, who was with them for 15 years.
When Terri and Steve Met, It Was Fate
Terri Raines traveled halfway around the world from her home in the Pacific Northwest not knowing this trip would change her life forever. The day she met Steve Irwin, her family had just happened to attend one of his engaging nature shows at the Australia Zoo in 1991, and that’s when she fell in love with him.
The feeling was mutual, Steve was smitten with the pretty American, and it marked the beginning of their thrilling life together in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Think "Grease," except Sandy is the American and Danny is Australian. And with crocodiles instead of cars. The musical basically writes itself.
The Crocodile Hunter Never Carried Antivenom
If you think Steve was crazy for provoking and then wrestling with venomous snakes, he was even crazier than you thought. Unbelievably, when he was alive, he said he would never carry antivenom, and he never did. Not one to fake danger like a WWE fighter, Irwin really did walk on the wild side. Maybe even sat and chilled on the wild side just for kicks.
Handling snakes requires a strong mental game, and this snake whisperer was confident. He explains, “Karma exudes through my fingertips into the animal, and they feel a lot more comfortable, and I don’t get bitten.”
Tragedy Hit the Irwin Family in 2000
Steve’s mother, Lyn Irwin, co-founded the Australia Zoo with her husband Bob Irwin. It would be safe to assume that she was the one who enabled and encouraged Steve's deep interest in animals, wildlife, and conservation. She was considered a loving matriarch who they could depend on when life got tough. Sadly, Lyn died suddenly in a terrible car crash just six years before Steve's death.
The entire family was devastated when they heard the tragic news. Steve shared his grief, saying, “We have never felt pain like this before, and I’m sorry, so sorry, Mum, but we’ll grieve you forever.”
Was Steve a Vegetarian?
Steve fawned over all critters, ugly and scaley or cute and furry, so much so that many people assumed he was a vegetarian. And honestly, it would make a lot of sense. Surprisingly, though, he wasn't! As we would expect, PETA lambasted him for eating the animals he professed to love.
In response, Steve took a serious look at a vegetarian diet. He told "Scientific American" in a 2001 interview that he felt that it would be better to be a vegetarian and seriously considered converting, but in the end, it didn’t square with his lifestyle. To be fair, his work has contributed to animals just as much as a vegetarian diet.
Do This at Home
Steve took a lot of flak for being a dangerous role model for kids, no matter how many warnings he gave and how much he reiterated the fact that he was a trained professional with a lifetime of experience handling animals.
Terri likes to point out that his TV programs have actually saved lives. A woman from Brisbane wrote in and said her little boy’s life was saved by watching one of the broadcasts that taught first aid for snake bites! The child was lucky; he had been bitten by a death adder, one of the world’s most venomous snakes.
Don’t Do This on TV
No matter how heatedly controversial, Steve defended his decision in 2004 to bring his infant son into the crocodile enclosure at Australia Zoo till his last day. On one hand, he dangles a piece of raw meat (a dead chicken to be precise) over the massive lizard’s snapping razor jaws, and on the other, he cradles his month-old baby, Robert.
The backlash was swift and savage. Callers flooded the lines in horror. Child services threatened to charge him with child endangerment, but, luckily for the showman, the acting premier of Queensland stepped in and prevented the charges from being filed.
Queensland Named a Road After the Crocodile Hunter
It stands to reason that Queensland would want to perpetuate the local who became a global celebrity. It's a shame, though, that it only did it after his passing. After Steve died, Glasshouse Mountain road was renamed “Steve Irwin Way” in memory of the beloved Aussie.
The scenic route winding around Queensland’s fascinating Glasshouse Mountains can be found near the entrance of the Australia Zoo. Ironically, the road is hazardous and has been responsible for many car crashes. It makes sense that a street named after the danger-seeking showman is itself dangerous. We wonder what the local reptiles had to say about it.
The Risk of Wearing Wedding Bands Was Too Big
Steve Irwin was crazy brave, but one risk he did not take was wearing a wedding band. Neither he nor Terri wore the nuptial token due to fears that it might hurt the animals or cause injury to themselves. If you have heard of “degloving,” it’s easy to understand why they did not take the risk.
Just as horrible as it sounds, degloving is an injury that can rip the flesh off of your finger, like peeling off a glove, if the ring is caught on something. Amputation of the ring finger is the only option if a full degloving occurs.
Steve Irwin Supported Big Cat Acts
In 2003, the world-famous Las Vegas tiger act performed by illusionists Roy Horn and Chris Lawrence officially ended in a traumatic experience. The performers' 400-pound white tiger turned on Roy, mauling him and leaving him permanently maimed. Surprisingly, Steve showed support for these types of shows and didn't change his mind even after learning about this incident.
In 2004, CNN’s Larry King asked Steve what he thought about the incident. He said, in part, “if we don’t get animals into people’s hearts, they’re going to go extinct.” Showman Chris Lawrence has been unable to get that tiger OUT of his heart. He told "Hollywood Reporter" that the attack caused a grueling 15-year battle with PTSD.
Bob Irwin Said "No" to a State Funeral
The government of Australia adored their world-famous nature enthusiast. After his death, they even considered giving him a state funeral. Irwin's family, however, wasn't too keen on the idea. Steve's father, Bob Irwin, stepped in to reject the whole thing.
As the father of the man who was proud to be an ordinary bloke, he said Steve would not want to be remembered by a pompous display. He said that his son would want to be celebrated as the ordinary bloke that he was. Instead of the state funeral, he was buried in a private ceremony at the Australia ceremony. Three weeks later, a public ceremony was held at the zoo and broadcast live to approximately 300 million viewers.
The Time Steve Got Bit on the Neck by a Snake
In an early weekly kids’ TV program featuring Steve at the family zoo in 1991, he held a nonvenomous python wrapped around his neck. Just a regular day on the job for Irwin. The naturalist explained to the camera that the creature wouldn’t bite him because he is not a threat.
As if the medium-sized black snake was thinking, “oh yeah?” it lunged and chomped into Steve’s neck. Steve was practically unphased by the whole thing. He barely reacted and finally paused in his description of venomous versus nonvenomous snakes to say the thing was, in fact, chomping down on his neck.
The World’s Favorite Aussie Was a Caricature Down Under
While audiences around the globe were endeared to the enthusiastic mannerisms and twangy accent, many Australians recoiled from his whole character, no matter how authentic. They said he played a stereotype on TV, heavily using words and phrases like “g’day” that they did not identify with.
When asked about those views, Steve characteristically laughed in their faces calling it a bit of “cultural cringe.” During an ABC interview in 2003, he explained that people were embarrassed by him in his own country but he wasn't taking it personally. He thought it was because they saw themselves in him, and it made them uncomfortable.
How Many Times Did Steve Get Bit?
Steve revealed to Larry King that he had been bitten many times by snakes, crocs, and even big cats, but explained that since he’s a professional, he had not suffered anything serious. A bearded dragon lizard once bit him on the nose, just as Steve said that the critter was likely thinking, "stay away from me, or I’m going to bite ya."
Once, Steve attempted to lasso Graham the croc, missed, and the well-known zoo crocodile dragged him into the water by the hand. The bite went all the way through, but his hand survived. He said he would never make that mistake again.
The Crocodile Hunter Expected to Die Young
Steve was always putting his life at risk. One time, he lay on the ground next to the most dangerous snake in the world, watching it slither close enough to get a little flick of a lick on his face. You can almost see the moment of fear on Steve’s face as he slowly moves away as the snake approached his cheek.
So, when Terri said her husband knew his life would be cut short, it was true and completely in line with his lifestyle. She said he had long predicted it and even considered quitting his profession to spend time with his kids.
The Time Graham Almost Killed Steve’s Best Friend
After having been bit by Graham the croc, Steve knew the prehistoric reptile was aggressive. But he was still surprised when Graham went after his "Crocodile Hunter" castmate and longtime friend, Wes. He said; the monstrous lizard snuck up behind Wes and grabbed him by his bottom, tearing off two pieces of flesh.
Steve was shocked. He couldn’t believe Graham “started killing him right in front of me.” He wasn't the kind of man to freeze when things get dangerous, though. Quickly reacting, Steve saved Wes by grabbing the croc’s leg and painfully twisting it, forcing it to release his prey.
Steve’s First "Girlfriend" Was a Dog
If you've ever had a glimpse into the world of modern dating apps, you know that dog dads and dog moms will flaunt their furbabies before introducing anything else about themselves or their personalities. While dating apps weren't really a thing in 1991, Steve did a very similar thing with his own dog.
When Terri first met Steve, he teased her right off the bat. He asked if she wanted to meet his girlfriend. She was quite into him, so naturally, her heart sank. Steve whistled, and the next thing she knew, little Sui came bounding toward them. With a huge sigh of relief, she realized he was available.
Bindi Still Misses Her Dad
After more than ten years without him, Bindi still feels the loss of her dad. It creeps up on her at those special moments in which she wishes he was there for her. One of the most memorable moments was when she met her future husband, Chandler Powell at the Australia Zoo, just as her mom had met her dad. She wished she could share the moment with him.
Watching footage of him sometimes triggers grief. Even though she has watched the old footage of her dad wrangling crocodiles more than 50 times before, some days, she still breaks down and cries.
There Are Animal Species Named After Steve
In the ultimate act of commemoration, more than one animal species has been named after the legendary crocodile hunter. One such species is the Elseya Irwini, which is a turtle species that was discovered by Irwin.
Another animal that can join Irwin's name club is a snail that bears the naturalist’s catchphrase, “Crikey,” called the Crickey Steveirwini. Finally, a tiny microscopic parasite is lucky enough to be named after him called the Trypanosoma Irwini. It's not something you can pet or find at the zoo, but still, how many creatures have you had named after you? Yeah, that's what we thought.
He Did Not Want to Be a Dad
Though he seems like he would be the perfect dad, playful and protective, Steve really did not “give a rip” about having children. Like many men, kids were not on his home page. Honestly, with his line of work, it could also be because he knew that being responsible for another human's wellbeing is that much more difficult for a man in his line of work.
However, after Bindi was born in 1998, all that changed. He said, suddenly, he became the proudest father on the planet. In his down-under way, he exclaimed, “I gotta tell ya. I can’t dwell on her for too long or I'll start bawling my eyes out.”
Steve’s Most Famous Quote
Irwin is known for giving us a busload of clever sayings throughout his career. The one that he is perhaps best known for is this philosophical assessment of friendship. “Crocodiles are easy; they try to kill and eat you. People are harder. Sometimes they try to be your friend first.” This quote says a lot about his view of personal relationships.
Another quote with a similar sentiment was "Crikey, mate. You’re far safer dealing with crocodiles and western diamondback rattlesnakes than the executives and the producers and all those sharks in the big MGM building." Honestly, though, you probably don't need to be working with wild animals to feel that way about big TV executives.
A Law Against Steve Irwin
In 2005, a new law went into effect that sent a clear message to the Crocodile Hunter. As of February of that year, no child or adult without specific training would be allowed in a crocodile enclosure. The crocodile-handling ban was instituted in the state of Queensland.
Now, if that law was specifically aimed at Irwin, we find it a bit confusing. After all, if anyone in Australia was trained enough to handle crocs, it was him. Plus, even if he was banned from the crocodile enclosure, there was still a myriad of dangerous animals he was interacting with on a regular basis.
He Almost Lost a Digit
Steve’s finger got “snapped off” behind his knuckle while he was in the middle of a croc-hunting exploit. Not one to get too twisted about such an injury, Irwin handled it with his typical kind of humor. In an interview with Larry King, he said that when half of his finger was all that was left, he teased his daughter Bindi by saying that he should get the whole finger cut off.
When she protested, he said it would be a great idea and that they could have “a little pet daddy finger.” She flatly refused his plan. Good job Bindi. Some dad jokes just have to be nipped in the bud.
Steve’s Last Words
Only one person was around to hear Steve’s final commentary. Cameraman Justin Lyons was filming the last frame of the documentary "Ocean’s Deadliest" when a stingray zapped Steve in the chest with its barb. Justin panned out to follow the ray. When he panned back to Steve, he knew something went terribly wrong as blood clouded the water.
Justin desperately tried to help, telling the host to hang on and think of his family. That was when Steve said his very last words. He turned to the cameraman slowly, looked up, and calmly said, “I’m dying.” There was nothing anyone could do.
Steve Saved a Diver’s Life
Irwin wasn't only busy with saving animals. Sure, that was his job and his passion, but when the opportunity came, he save human life as well. In 2003, Steve and his crew happened to be filming at the Sea of Cortez near Mexico when a diving expedition went terribly wrong. A storm surge threw the divers against the rocks.
One woman had already died, and now the man who tried to rescue her needed to be saved. When Steve heard of the diving expedition's fate via an SOS call, he quit filming, swam across the channel, and rescued Scott Jones, bringing him aboard his main boat.
The One Animal that Scared the Crocodile Hunter
Technically, there are two creatures that Steve wanted nothing to do with. Interestingly, those two animals weren't venomous or even predators. In "Steve Irwin’s Most Dangerous Adventures," he admitted he feared the hippopotamus. Sure, they're herbivores, but who wouldn’t fear an aggressive, multi-ton beast that can chomp humans in half?
The other animal that Steve dreaded, no one would expect. It is the lowly parrot. Yup, those little feathery creatures. Irwin hated parrots. For some reason, he said, parrots loved to bite him. One nearly tore off his nose. He’d been bitten by those squawking birds more times than he could count.
Steve Irwin Was a Doting Dad
For someone who initially didn't even want to have children, Irwin displayed some impressive parenting. You can tell by the way Bindi and Robert love and adore their late father that he was a loving parent. In a 2007 interview, Steve’s childhood best friend and croc partner, Wes Mannion, talked about how much his friend doted over his kids.
Wes said that even if he was in an important meeting and Bindi came bounding up saying, “Daddy! Daddy!” he wouldn’t shush her. Instead, Wes recalled, Steve would swoop her up and play with her. That's a great dad in our book.
Reports of Steve’s Death Angered His Father
There had been a sort of unwritten agreement between those close to Steve not to talk about his death. Justin Lyons, the cameraman who had worked with Steve for 15 years, had to wait until 2014 to speak of the 2006 death. And even then, it rubbed some people the wrong way.
When the cameraman talked about witnessing the beloved showman's death almost ten years after the tragedy, Bob Irwin spoke out. He said that Justin’s interview with an Australian talk show saddened him and made him feel angry. He said, as someone trying to heal from such a loss, bringing it up, even after all these years, made things worse.
Rays Are Considered the Ocean’s Most Docile Creatures
Majestically gliding through the ocean, gently flapping their wings, for those who don't know them, it's hard to guess that stingrays are actually very dangerous. The ray that killed Steve was an 8-foot-long black stingray. It was surprising to everyone that a reclusive sea animal like a ray would have been his demise. And, in fact, it was only the third-ever fatal incident on record in Australia.
According to the cameraman's eyewitness report, which was confirmed by the police investigation, a massive 4-foot wide ray with a razor-sharp barb stabbed Steve in the chest. The freak accident was only the seventeenth-ever stingray death in the world.
Steve Grew Up Handling Animals
From the day he was born, animals and wilderness surrounded Steve at his parents’ zoo, so it's not surprising he turned out the way he did. The Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park was opened in 1970 and was Steve’s native habitat. He said his dad let him catch his first crocodile when he was nine.
For his sixth birthday, he was given a 12-foot python. He told Larry King that he thought he must have made his dad very proud when he wrestled his first croc. It happened when he was a volunteer for a program that captured and relocated crocodiles on Queensland’s east coast.
Bad Publicity Was Distressing for Steve
Just like any one of us, Steve Irwin did not like being criticized publicly. After the shocking footage of him holding his infant over a ferocious crocodile, Steve was not prepared for the massive backlash he was faced with. He told Larry King in 2004 that he was “absolutely devastated.” He said that it was the low point of his life. Dealing with the media coverage and people's unsolicited opinions would do that to anyone.
The authorities performed an investigation while media coverage exploded. It was a humiliating experience, but he was sure to tell King that the investigators could not press charges because he had done nothing wrong.
Not Your Average Honeymoon
Like all newlywed couples, when Terri and Steve married, they went off for a honeymoon. But these two weren't an ordinary couple and their honeymoon was not the one most people would take. Instead of chilling on an exotic beach in Bora Bora, they launched their new show, "The Crocodile Hunter," which would become a worldwide sensation as they went off to rescue afflicted crocodiles.
They filmed their wild and crazy honeymoon adventures of lassoing massive lizards and shared the whole experience with their adoring audience. The Discovery Channel grabbed the chance to air the show, and it ultimately reached 500 million viewers.
Footage of Steve’s Death No Longer Exists
When cameraman Justin Lyons spoke about the tragic stingray attack, he told the talk show hosts about a crew pact. Steve told them that cameras must keep rolling, no matter what, even if he is injured, and they all respected that pact. Lyons also revealed that they let cameras roll during the hour-long CPR effort to save Steve, hoping for a dramatic happy ending.
When that didn’t happen, the tape was handed over to Queensland police for an investigation. Afterward, according to Terri, it was destroyed. Lyons agreed that people shouldn’t see those images out of respect for the family.
Steve’s Kids Missed the Boat – Luckily
Generally, Bindi and Robert would tag along for their dad’s filming shoots, hanging out on the famous Croc One research boat. They were not on board on the day their dad's life was taken. Terri, their mom, told "You" magazine she was relieved the children missed out on this adventure.
Terri and the kids were having an adventure of their own at the time, hiking in the Tasmania mountains. They obviously flew back the second they heard the terrible news, but she said in 2018 that she was thankful that her children did not have to witness his terrible death.
A Rift in the Irwin Family
The Irwin family seems like a pretty tightly-knit bunch, and for the most part, they really are. Sadly, however, after Steve’s death, Bob Irwin began distancing himself from his son’s family. Ultimately, they fell out of touch in an almost irreparable way.
Bob spoke out after his granddaughter Bindi married Chandler Powell. In an interview with the "Courier-Mail," he said that he did not get invited to the wedding, adding that he did not even expect an invitation because the rift had gotten so bad. Bindi responded by saying that her grandfather chose to distance himself from everything her father cared about.
A String of Stingray Deaths
Following Steve’s tragic death, stingrays were found killed and mutilated on the shores of Australia. Many had their tails sliced off. While there was no direct proof that these marine deaths were acts of vengeance, it was assumed that the stingray death phenomenon was backlash for the loss of the great naturalist.
Irwin’s conservation group, the Wildlife Warriors, spoke out immediately. In a statement, they said that retribution killing is exactly the last thing Steve would have wanted to see. After all, no matter how many times he's been bitten or injured, Irwin was always passionately advocating for wildlife protection.
Years Later, Terri Is Single
On September 4, 2020, Terri celebrated the love she and Steve shared with a moving Tweet. It was exactly 14 years from the date of his death, and, coincidingly, they had been married 14 years when he was taken from her.
Above a heartwarming photo of the young couple kissing with a bearded lizard resting on their heads, she said, “I feel that I have a choice: celebrate love or struggle with grief. I choose love.” When "People" magazine asked if she had moved on, she said that finding love again is a beautiful experience, but added, “I had my happily ever after.”
Terri Is Thankful Steve Wasn’t Killed by a Croc
After a tragic death like Steve’s, it is hard to be thankful for anything at all. But by 2018, twelve years after his 2006 death, Terri felt sufficiently recovered enough to be able to joke about it. She said that she knew Steve would have been relieved that he was not killed by a crocodile.
Jokingly, she said it would have undermined his constant efforts to change public perception of them. Now that we think about it, his death didn't do so well to public perception of stingrays either, but we guess you can't have it all, now can you?
PETA Continues to Hate Steve
Considering that they are both doing their best to help protect animals, it's surprising how contentious the relationship between PETA and Irwin was. You would think it was all collaboration and mutual respect, but that wasn't the case. PETA has always had a problem with the vivacious naturalist, posting complaints about his meat-based diet and throwing shade for endangering his kid.
Even after he had been gone over a decade, PETA made a stink about a digital tribute for him. Google released a Google Doodle in February 2019, celebrating the beloved nature activist. PETA scourged Google for supporting a “dangerous” message.
Steve Was Wild About Crocodiles Off-Camera Too
In 2004, Steve teamed up with the University of Queensland to study crocs. He actively tracked and tagged crocodiles, like the one pictured here, for a research program called Crocs in Space. And before you ask, no, the program was not trying to send crocodiles into space (though crazier things have happened.) The team discovered fascinating information about the critters, including new details about their life in the wild.
They learned about the local saltwater species’ social hierarchy by tracking them and monitoring them from satellites in space. No one knew a croc could hold its breath underwater for seven hours prior to the study.
‘The Crocodile Hunter’ Made Steve Famous in America
Even though he was born and raised in Australia and even though every fiber of his being was so incredibly Australian, Steve Irwin was a rockstar in America before "The Crocodile Hunter" came to Australian television. He had one of the biggest media brands in the U.S.
There were even plans for a resort-style amusement park based on his Australian Zoo to pop up in Las Vegas. Think "Jumanji," except it has rollercoasters, and all the people around you keep saying "Crikey!" Sadly, those plans fell through when he died. Though, to this day, Americans are still crazy about the Crocodile Hunter.
The Madness of Fame in America
Steve Irwin was making it big in America, which sounds like a dream, however, not all aspects of it were enjoyable. In a 2002 interview with Australian talk show host Rove McManus, Steve spoke of the "daunting" experience of being a celebrity in the United States. He completed 1,200 interviews in five weeks, spanning the entire nation in an exhausting whirlwind tour.
He talked about the insane logistics that included police escorts, bodyguards, wearing camouflage disguises, undercover agents, and secret escape doors. It was overwhelming for the self-described bloke from the bush. As soon as he returned down under, he went straight back to the bush.
Steve Chose to Save Wildlife Rather Than Live a Flashy Lifestyle
In an interview with "60 Minutes," Steve said fast cars and flashy houses meant nothing to him. Instead, he used his money to buy land and protect wildlife. If it seems like a tame venture, it’s not! When he bought up lands that happened to contain high-value minerals, miners went after his property. As you would expect, nothing they tried to say or do could sway Irwin into letting them touch that ground.
They even went after his daughter Bindi who spoke out about the commercial mining interests within her father’s nature preserve. The land is part of northeast Australia's 334,000-acre Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve.
Queensland Recognized Steve With a Professorship
A little before he died, the University of Queensland had plans to award the Crocodile Hunter with an adjunct professorship. Sadly, he passed away before they could do it. In 2007, a year after his unfortunate death, the establishment posthumously esteemed the Crocodile Hunter with the title.
His wife, Terri, also received an honorary doctorate a few years later, in 2015. The university chose to celebrate Steve Irwin, especially for his work in partnership with tagging and tracking adult saltwater crocodiles. He was also acknowledged for a lifetime of conservation work and dedication to preserving the nation’s wildlands. You can now call him Professor Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin. He would have been proud.
The Reef Where It Happened
John Stainton, a longtime friend who produced and directed the "Crocodile Hunter," provided details about the final cut. In 2006, John told "N.Y. Post" exactly what happened. He and the crew were filming at Batt Reef near Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef. The sea was swarming with rays.
He saw Steve dive down over a 220-pound ray and, just at that horrific moment, an 8-inch poisonous barbed tail speared his mate. Steve ripped the barb out of his own chest, but the poisonous stab was fatal. Viewing the footage was devastating, prompting John to spearhead the effort to have it destroyed.
An Australia Zoo Employee Set the Crocs Free
The Irwins lived on the Australia Zoo property. Their front yard opened up to the zoo. Each morning at 4:30 a.m., Steve was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, proceeding on his morning walk, checking up on all of his animal friends. On one particular day, things got a little bit crazy. Even by Irwin standards.
He noticed right away that the croc enclosure gates were flung wide open. Crocs were wandering wild. He found out later that a zoo staff member was under the influence and then decided to set the animals free to their natural state. The Irwin family responded with a zero-tolerance policy to the use of illicit substances.
The Real Steve Irwin Was on a Natural High
The personality Steve brought to the screen was all him. He didn’t even try. He had the unbridled enthusiasm and recklessness of a boy. He told "60 Minutes" that he woke up at the crack of dawn, chomping at the bit. In the program’s farewell tribute, they showed an interview tape asking if he ever used narcotics.
He never had. Not even coffee. Steve said he was so passionate about the work that he was on an intense natural high — he didn’t even want to go to sleep at night. He wanted to keep filming. He did admit he was addicted to adrenaline.
Filming "Collision Course" Was a Brutal Experience
Steve suffered many injuries making "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course," some near-fatal. They were harsh, but luckily, he was able to recover from all of them. In the first incident, he fell off a cliff and injured his hand, which turned into gangrene. He said it almost killed him. Next, jumping on a massive 12-foot croc, he had cartilage surgery on his leg between film shoots.
He told talk show host Rove McManus his head was smashed in, and his lip was split; plus, there was so much blood from his chest being ripped up they had to edit the scene to maintain a PG rating.