Jeff Corwin says he hasn't changed how he works with wildlife as a result of Steve Irwin's tragic accident.
It is hard for me to believe that just one year ago today the booming, quintessentially Aussie intonation of Steve Irwin was forever silenced by the barb of a stingray while diving off of the Australia's great barrier reef.
I remember exactly where I was the moment this tragedy dramatically unfolded -- it was in the wee hours of the morning when a colleague knocked on my hotel door, in Nome, Alaska, to tell me the tragic news. At first, I thought in was some sort of cruel prank, but upon turning on the television and tuning into CNN, I discovered that the unconceivable had become a reality.
Since that tragic day, I have often reflected upon Steve Irwin's premature death and the profound impact that it has had within the conservation community, in the world of wildlife documentaries, and upon the television hosts like myself who present them.
I am often asked if this most unimaginable accident has caused me to change my perception of the natural world along with the methods I use to work with wildlife. The simple answer is, "No." What happened to Irwin was a most unexpected, freakish event. While I never worked with Irwin and never met him, and while our styles are very different, I truly believe that he never would have wanted to put himself or the wildlife he had worked with in harm's way.
In the end, Irwin's message was one of conservation and he was very much a pioneer in his field, with an incredibly unique talent for sharing important information on wildlife to a global audience.
For millions around the world, he was an advocate for the protection of endangered and often misunderstood species. For many of his viewers, Irwin's TV programs served as an important introduction to the natural world, information that could ultimately be applied to conservation.
For me, though, the great tragedy of his death is most profound in his family's loss of a husband and father. Irwin was not television's first naturalist -- others from David Attenborough to Marlin Perkins came decades before him -- and I imagine after my work on television comes to an end, there will be many others, more talented and younger, waiting inline to replace me.
But I can't imagine my family without my presence. The thought of my child and wife moving forward in life without me there is unconceivable to me. Thus, the untimely passing of Irwin is less the loss of a great naturalist, conservationist, and television presenter (although one could argue in favor of all those attributes), but greater felt for the recognition of his irreplaceable role as a great husband and father.