Don't dishonor croc hunter's legacy
Posted Sept. 22, 2006

While many of crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin’s fans have been busy sending flowers and gifts to the Australia Zoo in memorial of the late wildlife preservationist’s untimely death a few weeks ago, we at the Campus Times were disappointed to learn that others may be paying their respects in a much more alarming way; killing stingrays in retaliation.

The Animal Planet pioneer, famous for defying death daily in his quest to teach the world about nature and to satisfy his own creature-oriented passion and curiosity, as well as for his American assimilation of the phrase “Crikey!” was killed in an extremely rare fatal stingray attack, as the spiky toxin-filled barb of a bull ray pierced his heart.

Now in the wake of his death, at least 10 of the seemingly harmless sea creatures have been discovered dead and maimed on the beaches of Queensland, their tails severed from their bodies.

Remembering Irwin’s efforts to preserve wildlife in every form, we can only come to the conclusion that he would wholeheartedly disapprove of these supposed attempts to pay him tribute. In hindsight, one must realize the act of killing a stingray itself cannot right the wrong of his death; it merely takes away from the momentum of a career that centered on saving all endangered species.

Even Irwin would probably find irony in his own demise, but he would seemingly chock it up to the wiles of nature. He would never intentionally harm an animal, considering the murder of a stingray to be the ultimate sin, something he spent his life railing against.

Least to say stingrays are not at fault and murdering a slew of the animals in retribution for the actions of one is akin to animal stereotyping. The bull ray responsible for Irwin’s death merely acted out of fear, as shooting the tail straight out into the water is a common defense mechanism practiced by the animals.

In many interviews, Irwin dubbed himself a “wildlife warrior” and considered conservation efforts to be the most important aspect of his career and fame, divulging the fact that his intention was to excite people about animals through education in order to demand respect for all wildlife.

Among many of his contributions to the natural world, Irwin founded Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, a non-profit organization, the International Crocodile Rescue and the Lyn Irwin Memorial Fund, with earnings going to the Iron Bark Station Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

Although reports have only alluded to speculation that Irwin enthusiasts have killed several stingrays in response to his death, it is safe to assume that the incidents were not coincidental. Fear of stingrays, considering that even one of the bravest animal handlers could die at the tail of one, has reached a new high.

But true fans should attempt to capture the rays and teach them niceties rather than chop off their tails, comparable to grimy blades.

So while we at the Campus Times acknowledge that taking more cautionary action toward stingrays may be necessary, we also embrace the fact that killing them, whether as a safety measurement or as an act of vengeance, is pushing the envelope too far. Doing so pays disrespect to Irwin and everything that the humane crusader embodied.


Don't dishonor croc hunter's legacy

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