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Your e-mails: 'He lived with such passion'

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(CNN) -- We asked readers for their reaction to the death of Steve Irwin, the Australian TV presenter known as the "Crocodile Hunter," who died after being stung by a stingray. We received thousands of replies. The following are a selection, some of which have been edited:

When I visited Australia in 2002, my best friend and I took a cab all the way across Brisbane just to visit Steve Irwin's Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, where we could see koalas, kangaroos and wallabies up close. The staff was so accommodating and friendly, and it was amazing to be able to touch (and smell!) animals that you only see from afar in American zoos. I hope his family is able to carry on his legacy of preserving Australia's astounding variety of wildlife for future generations.
Julia Spencer, Austin, Texas

I will remember Steve Irwin by remembering and understanding that he loved what he did. I think everyone must remember that the stingray was just doing what he was supposed to do. I don't think Mr. Irwin would want people turning against nature and its beauty because of what happened. I think the best way to honor him is to carry on with his love of wildlife and continue teaching our children about it.
Leigh Kennemore, Highlands, North Carolina

My niece adored Steve Irwin. She's 10 and she would imitate Steve's way of talking, and we would have a fun time watching Steve on TV when his show was on. I never liked reptiles, but his approach to the subject was so interesting that I loved watching his show, even though I never liked reptiles (I love mammals). It is very rare in this life to see someone so alive and with a burning spirit enough to enlighten thousands of hearts and minds. Steve Irwin was a great man and he has changed the world in his own humble way. Thank you Steve, may your legacy continue forever. Goodbye mate, hats off to you.
Mary Nguyen, Alabang, Philippines

As a vet tech and lifelong animal lover, Steve was my hero! He did not candy-coat his passion for animals. He let it shine -- uninhibited -- through everything he touched in his life! I am thankful that he was made a "big star" on TV because his message about conservation and saving our world was broadcast to the world! A large void has been left by the passing of this wonderful person. May his life's energy, enthusiasm, passion and love of animals live on through his legacy. Heartfelt condolences to his family, crew and close friends.
Gwen Anderson, Pullman, Washington

He is the guy who put Animal Planet on the map. He is the reason why I started watching Animal Planet. He will never be forgotten. The sad part is the family that is left behind. GOD BLESS THEM.
Tunza Wallace, Charlotte, North Carolina

I am in tears as I write this, because Steve Irwin was and still is a beautiful soul. He was completely unselfish and dedicated his life to the protection of all animals. He was completely full of love, and he loved giving this love to all around him. It did not matter who or where you were, he loved all people and animal life unashamedly. What made him unique was that he loved everyone, all creatures and all forms of life with the same pure genuine intensity, and he took great pleasure in showing and sharing this love. It was this energy that gave such massive joy to everyone, from 1 to 100 years old. He was and still is a beautiful soul and spirit, and I hope we all as the human race do not forget the beautiful lessons this ambassador of the "meaning of life" has taught us. Thank you, Mr. Steve Irwin, You are and always will be a brilliant example to us all.
Richard Fox, Boesingheliede, Netherlands

To honor Steve, I'm going to the Indian River Lagoon to look for stingrays and Manta rays. I recently saw a large one swim under the Eau Gallie Causeway in northern Melbourne, Florida. It seemed to have a wingspan of about 8 feet. Then I'm going to the St. John's River, just west of the city, to canoe or swim with the alligators (at a safe distance). Since moving to Florida almost a decade ago, I've learned to appreciate and enjoy the wildlife all around me, including manatees, eagles and sharks. I learned much from Steve's excellent programs; may he rest in peace.
Donald Wrona, Melbourne, Florida

I want to send my condolences to the Irwin family. Terri Irwin's home state is really praying for her and the kids and the entire family. The kids and Terri are strong and they will get through this, and remember, they have the support from a lot of viewers and fans as well as family and friends. God bless your family.
Brenda Kessler, Eagle Point, Oregon

My favorite thing about Steve was that he taught us to love and respect all living things, no matter how ugly, dangerous or different that creature was. From the smallest ant to the meanest, most feared crocodile, he showed us that all creatures deserve respect for their uniqueness and individual strengths. It's rare in this world today to find people who follow this way of thinking, and even rarer to find people who have the strength of character to act upon it. With all the junk on television, it was always great to come across the Crocodile Hunter and know that you, and millions of others, could tune in and learn something about the natural world. He was definitely crazy, but that's what enabled him to share his enthusiasm and passion for wildlife that led us to think a bit more deeply about conservation -- not just to make us humans feel better about ourselves, but to understand the intrinsic value of biodiversity. It's good to know he had the chance to pass on his passion to his kids, and hopefully they will inspire a new generation of crazy Aussie wildlife warriors!
Jenny S., New Plymouth, New Zealand

Steve Irwin was a legend. He has inspired people from all over the world. If there is life after death, and I'm sure there is, Steve Irwin will be up there with the greats. I pass on my regards to his wonderful family and friends, and would like to let them know that Ireland loved him and will always remember the true Croc Dundee.
Conor Keehan, Carlow, Ireland

Several years ago, a friend and I got into a discussion about those silly, irrational, primal fears -- mine is sharks, and my friend admitted that hers was crocodiles. My friend's then 5-year-old daughter, on overhearing her mother, looked up from her drawing and gave us a dismayed look. "No, Momma! Crocs rule!" Her impersonation lacked only the pumping-arms salute, but indulgent smiles were quickly erased when, with great, dignified authority, waggling her finger in emphasis, she informed us, "They're important 'cause they're the A-pex predator." Steve Irwin was an apex "edutainer" and his sincere passion for wildlife conservation and education will be sorely missed.
Tara Bergin, Seattle, Washington

Our hearts go out to Steve's family. He touched lives in so many ways, and he will be greatly missed. When my son was about 5 years old (now 15), he was having a discussion with his Grandma about a snake that they had found in the backyard. His Grandma told him to leave it alone. And he turned around and said, "But the crocodile hunter said that it was OK. It won't hurt me."
Linda Smith, Charleston, South Carolina

His Discovery Channel show aired the year after I was born, and I've watched him for as long as I can remember. I've planned on going to college and then traveling to the Australia Zoo to give them all a visit. Steve's death hasn't changed that, but it has minimized the excitement for a while. His enthusiasm and passion was inspiring to me. I guess I'm one of the few that understands that the "Baby Bob Incident" wasn't a problem at all, a mere misunderstanding. I miss him. I miss him a lot.
Joseph Langer, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

I had the honor of interning at Steve Irwin's Conservation Foundation's Koala Hospital during June and July of 2004. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I had the pleasure of meeting Steve and his family. Steve was an amazing man who came over and introduced himself to me right away. He was always excited to find out what was going on in the hospital and how he could help. The Australia Zoo is the most amazing zoo I have ever been to. It is not about the people being able to see the animals, but making the animals the most comfortable they can be in this situation. I was able to witness one of Steve's crocodile demonstrations when I was there as well. Terri and Steve were an amazing team when putting on shows. They weren't there to purely entertain but also to educate people on these amazing animals. Bindi is a remarkable little girl who reminded me so much of her father. She has the same love for animals and that same outgoing personality, willing and wanting to talk to everyone. My heart goes out to Steve's wonderful family. It was truly an honor for me to work for a man I had watched on television for so long. I respected this man for all that he does for the animals. He was a great individual and I will always keep a special place in my heart for him and the amazing opportunity he let me have. He will truly be missed by all worldwide.
Leanna Crane, Chenango Forks, New York

Steve was a great inspiration to me and my little sister. She always said she wished her dad was just like him, because he was her greatest role model. I always enjoyed what he did and I had even planned to take a trip to Australia to meet him and get to see what he really does up close -- that was a trip I dreamed of taking. I thought of him as someone you could look up to and hope to be like him. When I heard what happened everything I was thinking about or doing just stopped and went blank. And it did the same to my little sister. I guess all I can say is that my little sister and I will always remember him and that maybe someday my sister and I may grow up to do the things he did. I will remember Steve as the best friend I never got to meet. But that is OK because he led me to believe if you have bravery you can do anything. So that is how I will remember him.
Denver Miller, Liberty, Kentucky

Our family was totally in shock. My father called me on my way home and told me. When I relayed the message to my son, he was silent all the way home. After arriving home, I can honestly say my son watched Larry King Live all night for the first time. At one point I looked over and he was crying. He is 10 and was touched deeply by Steve's message. As a child he won a Halloween contest dressed as Steve, and his hope to be like him grew as he grew older. We are truly sorry the world has lost such an amazing man.
Kim Davis, Wells, Texas

As a naturalist in British Columbia, it saddened me deeply to know I had lost a colleague that I had never met personally. Yet Steve was a very large part of me. I too deal with poisonous creatures and often folks referred to me as "Steve Irwin's sister." I considered it a great honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as him. He above all spread the word of conservation and opened the world's eyes to understand that deadly creatures are not bad, but just use different survival instincts to cope with life. Steve was that way too. Many did not understand him and could not appreciate the deep love he had for all living creatures. He was fearless because he understood nature so well.
Sheri Klein, Oliver, Canada

One of the most unforgettable memories I will have of Irwin is when one of his crocs died at his zoo. He treated her as family. As I watched that episode, I cried with him and his staff. I felt their love and their pain...not even realizing that I was crying for an animal. He has taught me to love not only people whom I can converse with...but also God-given gifts such as animals that complete our world.
Ayla Rillera, Quezon City, Philippines

Steve Irwin thrilled me with his over-the-top approach to his work and his life. I never had any trouble loving the animals he treasured, and he seemed like a man I was destined to meet someday; to walk around his animal park, talk about life, and soak in his persona. But I remember meeting the Australian Short Track Speed Skating team, and I could understand why some Aussies would be a little embarrassed by him. When I asked about that (even though they were quick to point out that not everyone in Australia speaks like Steve Irwin) every person described a man and wife who put their words into action. A couple who devoted their time and energy to living the lives they so adamantly preached. No arrogance, no pride, no hypocrisy. Just a deep love for the wildlife and a burning desire to act on that love. I can think of no better way to remember him.
James Meade, Watertown, Wisconsin

I have been diving with stingrays...even fed them. For Steve Irwin to die from one of these animals is such a freakish circumstance. My heart goes out to his wife, children, father, and friends. Hopefully his family will step into his shoes and will continue to work on this cause, because where would we be without our animals?
Jen Cameron, Cornelius, North Carolina

I'm still very sad about the loss of a great man. He is and will be always a legend and I will miss to see and hear him until the rest of my life. Since I was starting to watch his series, films and documentaries, I never missed a bit of it. Nobody brought me closer to nature like Steve Irwin in his own charismatic way and took away my fear of so many species like snakes and crocodiles. It was always an adventure to watch him.
Michael Wakunda, Baden, Australia

This morning I told my 4-year-old little girl that the man she found so fascinating, the Crocodile Hunter, had died. I tried to explain simply that he got a boo-boo no one could fix. I felt in that moment that so understated everything about Steve Irwin's entire life. Although he had achieved celebrity status, he did not do this work for his personal gratification. He used the monies he earned to support the family zoo (geared towards animal education and preservation), to promote public education about animals, and to further conservation efforts throughout Australia and the world. He may have been a little reckless but he lived with such passion you have to respect him.
Amy Smull, Laconia, New Hampshire

Steve championed a world where humans co-existed with nature. Steve's efforts were caught on tape and broadcast as reality, not myth. Still, he was larger than life, and his foibles received as much attention as his triumphs. His zest for what he did was a many-fold magnification of what drove me in my study of biology and the environment, despite the staid disapproval of such "hands-on" practices by academia. I came to study nature later in life, but Steve was born to it; he almost embodied it.
Benjamin Coler, Little Canada, Minnesota

English not being my native language, I sometimes did not understand every word of Steve's "Australian English." Nevertheless, I always understood every single message he wanted me to understand because of the passion that emanated from his frantic body language. He had the warmest way to express how people should love and respect every living creature on this world and I believe that this will be the way most of us are going to remember him: as a man of sincere and genuine love for life who made us smile while learning.
Corinna Ott-Weber, Caracas, Venezuela

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