Steve Irwin’s death was one that shocked people all around the world, but his important conservation work has lived on ever since.
Known for his maverick spirit, enthusiasm and crazy stunts with wild creatures, Steve gained millions of fans globally, educating people about animals and the environment.
He was catapulted into the limelight with his television series Crocodile Hunter, which attracted audiences of 50 million – and he was busy behind the screen also.
But tragically, on September 4, 2006 reports of Steve’s death hit the headlines.
While filming the underwater documentary, Ocean’s Deadliest, at Batt Reef near Queensland, Steve approached a stingray which pierced his heart with its barb.
Initially thinking he had a punctured lung, Steve tragically bled to death. He was just 44.
Despite his not being here, his passion, projects and charity funds have continued to flourish with the help of his wife Terri, daughter Bindi, and son Robert.
In the 12 years since his death, Steve’s work has been growing, with animals being looked after, protected, and rehabilitated in the process.
Before his death, Steve had spoken out about his wishes for his family to continue his good work, which they have done with aplomb.
He set up the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, with Terri, in 2002 – this later changed name, and is now known as Wildlife Warriors Worldwide.
Steve set up the charity to protect and implement environmental strategies and regulations in order to preserve and protect wildlife.
My first time watching this footage was only a few days ago. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to describe the amount of emotion in my heart once the video ended. My dad. My superhero. I promise to do my best to make you proud and ensure your legacy lives on forever. A new chapter in our lives has begun as we embark on this journey with @animalplanet. There is so much on the horizon. We can’t wait to share our story as a family ❤️? #WildlifeWarriors
In 2017, Bindi told People Magazine what it meant for the family to carry on her dad’s hard work.
Dad was amazing because he left this legacy that people will never forget.
He didn’t just say to love the cute and cuddly animals, he tried to get people to understand and respect the animals like crocodiles and snakes and really break down those barriers.
For us, we really want to carry on in dad’s footsteps and make sure that everything he worked so hard for continues on in the future.
It wasn’t only Wildlife Warriors Worldwide he worked so hard on. Steve started several other projects, including International Crocodile Rescue and the Lyn Irwin Memorial Fund, in memory of his mother.
Steve took over Australia Zoo when he was still alive, and it continues to grow to this day.
The zoo funds ‘various national and international conservation projects’ as well as important research into saving animals.
Its projects help protect a number of species including crocodiles, elephants, tigers, wombats, and cheetahs.
In 2009, three years after his death, Australia Zoo launched the Turtle Research Project.
For the first time in Australia, researchers attached a tracker to a rehabilitated turtle, so they could gain a better understanding of their journey back to the wild.
The project uses technology which can track rehabilitated turtles for 500 days – monitoring ‘where they go, how far they journey, and how fast they travel’.
On this day, a year ago we first met Pinto the koala! After suffering horrific injuries in a road accident, his ten-month journey to recovery at the @AustraliaZoo Wildlife Hospital touched the hearts of many. We’re so proud that this special boy is now thriving in the wild! ? pic.twitter.com/Cbbehwk1uV
— Wildlife Warriors (@wildwarriors) September 1, 2018
It’ll be a long time, if ever, before Irwin’s work will fade. Speaking to Variety, Robert said helping animals is simply ‘who’ his family are.
It’s not work. It’s not what we do. It’s who we are as a family.
I think Bindi and I will always do this. I feel very lucky to carry on in dad’s message and teach everyone who comes into the zoo to love and respect all wildlife.
It seems Irwin’s work will continue to flourish, saving and helping animals around the world, which is truly remarkable.
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