Born in the suburbs of Melbourne on 22 February, 1962, Irwin became known throughout his life for his love of Australia‘s wildlife, which he shared on many TV programmes.
Irwin, whose father Bob was a naturalist and conservationist, developed an interest in animals from a young age. His parents founded the Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park, now known as the Australia Zoo, in 1970.
In 1991, Irwin became the manager of the park and met Terri Rains, a visitor at the venue who would eventually become his wife, according to Irwin’s official website.
Rains and Irwin spent their honeymoon filming what would become the pilot of the popular nature documentary series The Crocodile Hunter.
The show aired from 1996 to 2004, wrapping up two years before Irwin’s death.
Together, Rains and Irwin had a daughter, Bindi Sue Irwin, and a son, Robert Clarence Irwin.
In 2004, when Robert was one month old, his father caused outrage by carrying him in one arm while hand-feeding a large crocodile. The situation prompted comparisons to the incident that saw Michael Jackson dangling his baby son from a balcony in 2002.
Irwin apologised on television, saying he was actually at a safe distance from the animal and that he wanted to teach his children to be “crocodile-savy”.
He attracted criticism at other points of his life, at times for his political views, and at other times for his views on conservation. The Good Weekend magazine asked him in 2002 about “overgrazing, salinity, erosion” and reported that he had “vaguely” answered: ”Cows have been on our land for so long that Australia has evolved to handle those big animals.”
“It’s a confusing perspective, but the message seems to be that eating roos and crocs is bad for tourism, and more cruel than eating other animals,” the magazine added.
Irwin died in 2006 at the age of 44 after being fatally stabbed by a stingray.
His sudden, accidental death was compared by The Guardian to the passing of Diana, Princess of Wales, with thousands of fans around the world mourning the late Irwin.
He is survived by his two children and by his wife, who now owns the Australia Zoo.
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