Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Steve Irwin's legacy
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.

-- By Jeff Corwin, Biologist and co-host of CNN's Planet in Peril
Posted By CNN: 7:30 PM ET
Beautifully written Jeff.

Thanks for the great memories of A great man. Natutalist, educator, conservationist, but most importantly, husband and father.

Steve is missed in all of the capacites that you have mentioned, but surely most of all in the latter.

Thankfully, Steve still has a great presense in our memories, and also in the shows which are still televised. Also in Bindi and Terri carrying on his wonderful legacy.

Steve remains the best of the best.
Posted By Pati McMillan, Camp Hill, PA : 8:13 PM ET
I was hoping 360 wouldn't let the day go by without celebrating Steve Irwin. He was an incredible conservationist. We could all learn something from him. Thanks Jeff...
Posted By Jess, Paris, KY : 8:24 PM ET
I can't believe it has been a year already since the death of Steve Irwin! He was such a great man. His contributions to saving the animals and the Earth are greatly missed!!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 9:15 PM ET
Please do not under estimate your contribution as a biologist and conservationist. I, along with my family, have thoroughly enjoyed the "Planet in Peril" series with Anderson Cooper. Your insight into the series has been exceptional.

Yes, it is hard to believe it has been a year since Steve Irwin died in the unfortunate accident with the stingray. But as seen on AC360, via elephant biting, animals in the wild are very unpredictable.

But as I read your blog, it is crystal clear that you are committed to the exploration of this beautiful planet and are also committed to reporting on how humans are changing the natural order of our world through pollution and negative lifestyle choices.

I hope AC360 and you continue the "Planet in Peril" series in upcoming years. It is a topic that needs to be addressed continuously to keep people informed on the health of the planet.

Thank you for remembering Steve Irwin today.
Posted By Sharon D., Indianapolis, Indiana : 9:20 PM ET
Dear Jeff,

Thank you for your heartfelt post about Steve Irwin; it was beautifully written.

Steve was truly a unique personality and a dedicated advocate. His enthusiasm and love for animals was, and continues to be inspiring. Steve died doing what he truly loved; I don’t think he would have had it any other way.

Like you, Steve has encouraged people to become involved in ecological issues and to appreciate and respect our friends in the animal kingdom. Those that come after will have benefited greatly from your work.

You are right; Steve's family's loss is the most profound, but I see much of him shining through the eyes of his daughter Bindi, she is truly a treasure! I believe she will do an excellent job carrying on his work.

We have lost a great educator and the animal world has lost a truly dedicated and loyal friend.

Jo Ann
Posted By Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 9:23 PM ET

I whole heartedly agree. As an animal lover, I had a great appreciation for Steve’s enthusiasm and respect for the animals he so loved. And while I certainly felt this great loss in terms of the work he did, my heart truly went out to his wife and daughter, for their loss was the most significant of all. I’m just grateful that Bindi has such wonderful memories of her father to look back on throughout her life.
Posted By Jennifer, Washington DC : 9:24 PM ET
Hi Jeff,
I'm already amazed at Steve Irwin's daughter. I think her father and his life's work will never die if she has anything to say about it. Mr. Irwin left this world making a difference and it would appear that she will continue with those goals.
It's just a shame he was taken from this world too soon.
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 9:47 PM ET

Thank you for this thoughtful tribute to a truly great conservationist. As you say, he gave much to the world in his wildlife and conservation work. He was however irreplaceable to his family and I'm sure that loss is as keen today as it was the day it happened. My thought will always be with them and I admire his family for carrying on his work.

Take care and be careful. Your family as you said needs you too.
Posted By Annie Kate, Birmingham AL : 10:30 PM ET
I cried when I heard Steve had been killed and continued for several weeks afterward. Not only for the feeling of personal loss (I am/was a huge fan of his work and of him), but for the loss for his wife and daughter. I cried for and with Terri in later interviews, and was completely heartbroken on behalf of his family and close friends.

I've been watch Bindi's specials and interviews the past year and she is truely a remarkable child. The spitting image of her father. I have a good feeling that she will walk in her father's steps the rest of her life.
Posted By Claire J- Birmingham, AL : 11:56 PM ET
Steve Irwin will be missed, He was a role model to the kids that wants to be like him. What happen to him was an accident seeing his wife and his daughter on TV many of times. They love animals just like he did.
Posted By bluediamond (Jennifer) : 2:07 AM ET
Steve Irwin's death is a great loss to the world. He was the most passionate conservationalist and one of the most reliable proponents of conservation I've ever seen.
His wife Terri said that Steve was always inspired by David Attenborough. I love the programs from both Steve and David. God bless David.
Thank you Jeff for bringing us the Planet in Peril and thank all the conservationalists and naturalists for all the dedication they've put in their efforts to save our home planet.
Posted By Reyeszjj : 3:23 AM ET

You are so right---Certainly the world lost an advocate for humanity and every species of creature that exists however the loss of husband and father is the greatest loss imaginable. In 1994 at age 35 I lost my husband to a tragic accident and I was left with two young sons. Our world was left void. The things we held dear as friend, soccer coach, dad and life mate no one else could truly relate to. Terri and her children have often crossed my mind over the past 12 months. Their loss as a family can never be measured. Steve's vivacious personality and his ability to draw you in to whatever he was involved in was powerful. He touched the world with an amazing personality and cause but at some time there had to be those quiet times. I know from experience that those quiet hours are the ones that Terri and the children miss the most. My thoughts and prayers are still with them as they step past the one year mark and travel through a lifetime without father, companion and friend.
Bindi is doing a fine job walking in her Dad's footsteps. I only hope each of us on this Earth continue to find our own small way of carrying on the work of Steve Irwin. His memory lives on!
Posted By Zann Easterwood-Wortham : 6:50 AM ET

I'm thankful that you and other conservationists are out there doing what you do and I'm glad that you would never change your approach to your work after the "freak" accident that Steve had. Everyone needs to know that nature is not to be feared. We need to learn how to respect and co-habitate with wildlife not just for our sakes but for theirs and the planets sake as well. Your blog was a wonderful tribute to a man who taught us how beautiful nature is and to a man who was not ashamed to show his love for his work and his family.
Posted By Tiffany S-T. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada : 8:10 AM ET
Well Said Jeff! The world defiantly misses Steve Irwin; but as long as people like your self keep fighting the good fight people will be better educated on wildlife conservation.
Posted By Tabitha : 9:57 AM ET
Hi Jeff,

Kindest greetings from the seaside of Canada. Oh how sad, is it a year already? It’s so hard to believe that a year has gone by since Steve Irwin’s death, it seems like yesterday. Thank you for your heartfelt words. Steve Irwin was truly a lovable character. I think the whole world grieved when he died – he loved life and loved his family dearly. I think we all adore his little Bindy as we observe her dad’s same bubbling loving enthusiasm and sheer joy for all animals. It touches and inspires us all.

When I was young my mother gave me a touching illustration to help me understand how much we should appreciate this beautiful earth and all its living creatures. With great softness she told me that when parents are expecting a child they have the greatest joy and anticipation. Before their child is born they love it and with the greatest love and anticipation they prepare their dear baby’s nursery, making everything cheerful and cozy.

They carefully choose beautiful paint colors and whimsical art on the walls and ceiling to capture their baby’s attention and make it smile. A pretty music box to soothe it to sleep. A soft light to ease the fear of the dark. A rocking chair to gently rock and cuddle their baby as it is fed. And finally with the greatest love and joy they fill their baby’s room with adorable toys of every sort. Shelves filled with stuffed teddy bears, funny monkeys and cuddly animals of all sorts and sizes and colors. They want their baby to laugh, giggle and be nothing but joyful.

My mother told me that is what God did when He created our gorgeous earth. He loved us even before we were created and made everything absolutely perfect for us. Perfect beauty in sights, sounds and touch. A sun to warm us by day. A moon to soothe us by night. A sky filled with flying creatures and twinkling stars. Shimmering sand by the waves of the sea. Beautiful trees and flowers of all tones and fragrances to touch our hearts. The list is endless. But one of His greatest gifts to us are our “living toys” – animals, birds and fish of every type to make us marvel, giggle, laugh and inspire us with curiosity and the greatest awe.

As I write down this message, I think of dear men like Steve Irwin who never held back in expressing their pure joy and love for animals. We live in a world of proper manners and sophistication – we may often forget that we are “children” in God’s eyes. How He must delight to see us not hold back in laughing and enjoying all that He lovingly created for us to enjoy!

And most of all, He deeply loves and richly blesses those who with the greatest love, appreciate, protect and care for these precious gifts. He will not forget.

In thinking of all this, we can be sure God is lovingly watching over Steve Irwin’s dear family. I keep them in our heartfelt thoughts and prayers. The world was a better place with Steve Irwin in it and the Bible promises the earthly resurrection of such dear ones, when "the air will be sweet, streams will run pure, and the soil will burst with uncontaminated life."

Thank you Jeff for the reminder and your heartfelt word. Wishing you many blessings too. We keenly anticipate the CNN “Planet in Peril” 4 hour special. (so glad you’re okay after the elephant incident!) Thank you so much for all your hard work on it. Please take care and stay safe.

In fond remembrance,
Areti Gina by the sea in Canada

Life is beautiful........"What do we live for, if not to make the world less difficult for each other?" ~~George Eliot (1819-1880)
Posted By AretiGina by the sea in Canada : 11:18 AM ET
Steve's show was valuable to everyone, but especially to those not able to experience wild life themselves; it was a taste of what there is out there in the untouched parts of the world.
Posted By connie, san jose, ca. : 11:21 AM ET
Steve will be with us forever until we join him wherever he is now. We still miss you and your "Crikey" !
Posted By dennis m., msp. mn. : 11:23 AM ET
The best tribute to Steve Irwin we can make is to try to see the world as he saw it- with wonder and with the eyes of a child.
Posted By Kendal W. Augusta, Ga. : 11:26 AM ET
Steve shared with us his passion for life, for nature and taught us to love even the smallest piece of life on earth. In that, he's a great example of respect for life.
Posted By shane, durango, co. : 11:28 AM ET
Thanks, CNN for remembering Steve... he gave us many hours of enjoyment, education and laughs ! Crikey !
Posted By Meng, Los Angeles, CA : 11:30 AM ET
Hi Jeff, That was a poignant tribute that also attests to the exciting, educational, yet sometimes dangerous aspects of your work. When my siblings and I were younger, we enjoyed watching Marlin Perkin's Wild Kingdom. My children and I have also enjoyed your specials and some of those of the others you mentioned. It's sad that Irwin is gone, particularly for his family. In any case,all of you are contributing to a preservationist legacy, however long the journey.
Posted By Carol B., Frederick, MD : 11:39 AM ET
With Steve Irwin's passing, the world lost a miraculous man with a great heart for all kinds of wild animals. His shows were captivating and his enthusiam motivating!
Posted By Steve - Peoria, IL : 11:44 AM ET
Thank you Steve Irwin. Your heritage to your children will make a difference in how they will treat nature and its occupants. You made a difference in the short period you were among us.
Posted By Lee Washington, Denver, Co. : 11:47 AM ET
This guy led a meaningful life. His love for conservation of wildlife shows a great respect and without preaching, made others also respect animals.
Posted By Abu, Concord, CA : 11:54 AM ET
The world lost one of the best animal friends and best teachers ever when it lost Steve Irwin.
Posted By Martie, Ft. Wayne, IN : 11:56 AM ET
Steve was a great man who changed many peoples' view on animals... I 'll remember him as a fealess man.
Posted By adrienne, oxford, ms. : 12:00 PM ET
I loved the original way Steve presented the outback in Australia. Im sure he's still fighting with crocs and other animals in heaven.
Posted By Beau, Charleston, SC : 12:03 PM ET
I just loved the way he was always so happy and energetic. The Crocodile Hunter will be missed.
Posted By harrison dean, beaumont, tx. : 12:07 PM ET
Steve Irwin was a role model, because he taught me to see reptiles as animals, not just as creepy things.
Posted By candi, oklahoma city, ok. : 12:10 PM ET
Steve is still missed. The animals of the world will need a new protector now. It will be very hard to replace Steve because he was the best.
Posted By Charles D., St. Louis, Mo. : 12:13 PM ET
Thanks Jeff for your insight and pointing in a direction that the media too often seem to forget. My thoughts and prayers are with his family today.
Posted By Sonya K. from Helsinki/Finland : 12:17 PM ET
God broke the mold when he made Steve Irwin, that's for sure. Rest in Peace, matey.
Posted By Adam, Raleigh, N.C. : 12:18 PM ET
You protected all animals on Earth-- I hope that someone is protecting you now. Rest in Peace, Steve irwin.
Posted By merle, lenexa, ks. : 12:25 PM ET
Mr. Jeff Corwin thank you and be careful remember what happened in Asia with the elephants? I hope that thing won't happen again. I hope nothing tragic will happen to you because of your job.

Regards to all staff and crew of AC360 and Planet in Peril.
Posted By Jemillex Bacerdo Chicago, IL. : 12:25 PM ET
Thanks Jeff 'n Anderson for remembering your friend and colleague, the great Steve Irwin.

And Steve, if you're listening, thank you for teaching the world to love the least appreciated creatures of this world.
Posted By carroll jones, new haven, ct. : 12:28 PM ET
As a pre-vet student, I'd looked at all of the leading animal conservationists and experts as guides and proof that what I was pursuing was still well worth it. I'd been chatting with fellow student about the people that we'd most like to meet. I'd listed Steve as #1 on my list and less than 2 hours later the headline appeared on yahoo's home page. We just went completely silent. Going to the Australia Zoo in the near future is still a must. There will never be another guy like him, but it's great to see that his message is still being spread.
Posted By Jemaul Hunter : 12:40 PM ET
We'll remember his infectious enthusiasm for animals . Steve Irwin died doing what many people do not -- living their passion.
Posted By Ina, Garden City, NJ : 1:08 PM ET
Remembering Steve a year later brings back memories, some happy, some sad.

He had so much more to give the world; sometimes life is not fair at all.
Posted By Cameron D. , Birmingham, AL : 1:14 PM ET
Im so sad, yet happy Steve died doing what he was made to do- be with the animals. And I am reminded once again to try to appreciate life, to stop and really embrace the world in which we are lucky enough to live in. Thanks for the anniversary tribute to Steve Irwin.
Posted By Mikael D. Cheyenne, Wy. : 1:18 PM ET
He opened the world's eyes to wonderful animals that most of us had never seen before and didn't really understand. After watching his shows you'd be left with a feeling of awe at how crazy and exciting he was. Thanks for the wonderful experiences you shared with the world, Steve.
Posted By Ronni Las Vegas Nv. : 1:35 PM ET
Thank you for remembering Steve Irwin. He opened many people's eyes to wildlife conservation. He showed so much passion and love for the animals that people could not help but feel the same way. That's a person who knows how to live life.
Posted By Jane , Merritt Island, FL : 2:00 PM ET
He was just another human being, who cares. This "culture of celebrity" sickness has GOT TO STOP!!
Posted By Mark, Sacramento, CA : 3:16 PM ET
Sheesh! Cry me a river, Jeff! Get over it! What about all the people dying horrible deaths all over the world?!? Who cares about Irwin!!?
Posted By Naomi, San Francisco, CA : 3:19 PM ET
Is there something wrong with the animal in that picture?
Posted By Anonymous : 3:29 PM ET

Steve Erwin's legacy will live on in people like you, the selfless crusaders who have a true love of animals , I admired Steve for his noble dedication , his love of his family and devotion to the protection of wildlife, I miss him in the world, thankfully we have you and other's like you Anderson to give the much needed voice and attention to conservation and the precious animals who are on the brink of extinction. Bless you!

Maritza San Jose,ca
Posted By Maritza San Jose , Ca : 4:16 PM ET
Dear Jeff,

Thank you for sharing your toughts and concerns about Steve Irwin on the Blog.

I wonder why Anderson hasn't interviewed Bindi Irwin so far, she also tragically has lost a father at an early age like he did.
Posted By Ratna, New York, NY : 5:41 PM ET
When I hear comments such as "premature death" it makes me stop and think about how our society treats death, there are no guarantee's in this life that everyone is going to live to be 100 and so when someone dies "prematurely" as you say, it shocks everyone. Steve will be remembered for the great work that he did with animals and what a legacy that is to leave behind, and to know that his daughter is carrying on with his great work is a further tribute to Steve as a father and teacher. If you factor into the mix that the work he chose for his life set him up for the possibility that this would happen, it is no different than that couple that studied volcanos and died in a eruption. When it's time for you to go, it's time, it's what you leave behind that speaks volumes about you as a person, and it's for those of use left to continue, it's like the Queen said in reference to Diana's death: "Grief is the price we pay for having loved." So true.
Posted By Bill in Seattle : 2:17 AM ET
Having also lost my wonderful father 9 years ago when i was only 13,i can most personally relate to what you are trying to say and what Steve IRwin's family must be going through.yet in describing a man as a father and a husband we sometimes forget to mention the agony and despair of parents who lose their child which is a bit unfair.In this case,the tragedy that Bob Irwin faces is ireplacable and inconsolable,he not only has to live with the loss of his son but also has to show his grandchildren that he is strong and he is to give strength to his daughter in law.
Posted By Rubab Asif,PAkistan : 4:53 AM ET
Hearing that news one year ago was the hardest thing I've ever had to accept. Steve wasn't just an awesome human being to me. He was my hero. When I was younger, I was a loner. Kids would make fun of my race and beliefs. After September 11th, every thing was even worse. My own half-arab bloodine became my worst enemy.My only friend was some one I'd never met or spoke with or even written to. Years of watching Steve's enthusiasm and passion for life is what saved my own [life]. Between The ages of seven and eleven I was suicidal, angry, and violent. I was able to see I wasn't completly alone because of this one person.
Posted By Saera El Paso, Tx : 11:25 PM ET

Thank you for your wonderful tribute to Steve Irwin and for reminding everyone how precious family is! You made me cry!

Dawn, Lakewood Ohio
Posted By Dawn : 8:05 AM ET
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