CAIRNS, Australia - Steve Irwin, the environmentalist and television personality better known as "the Crocodile Hunter", died on Monday from an attack by a stingray off the Great Barrier Reef. Irwin, 44, gained worldwide fame for his television series featuring death-defying encounters with dangerous animals. Fans all over the globe were devastated by his death, but those in the animal kingdom rejoiced.
The organization Animals Against Steve Irwin (AASI) held a press conference to praise the death of Steve Irwin and congratulate the stingray that got him.
The South African lion who served as the spokesman for AASI said, "All animals are rejoicing on this day, especially the dangerous and lethal creatures that Irwin taunted on a daily basis. Cobras, tarantulas, crocodiles and many others had to endure Irwin's annoying grin, loud voice, and constant harassment for many years. We held out hope that, one day, Irwin's antics would get him in trouble and we would finally be rid of him. That day has come at last. Our worst nightmare was that Steve Irwin would die a peaceful death in his sleep. We didn't want another Jacques Coasteau on our hands."
When asked by a reporter from the New York Times why Steve Irwin's death was so important to the animal kingdom, the spokes-lion for AASI said, "It's basically a matter of pride. Irwin made fools of us all on a weekly basis. It was important to send a strong and unambiguous statement, and that statement is 'Don't mess with us.'
Five years ago, AASI set up a standing bounty of one million food pellets for any animal who killed or critically injured Steve Irwin. That bounty was claimed by the two year-old stingray that stabbed Irwin in the heart with its barb.
As it accepted the food pellets in a ceremony, the stingray who killed Steve Irwin was appreciative, yet humble. It said, "It took me completely by surprise. I was just burrowing myself in the mud when there he was swimming over me. I recognized him, of course, and knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, so I took it. I didn't think I would get him, was just trying to sting him and slow him down to give someone else a chance to finish him off, but I managed to get a good, clean hit right in the heart. I admit, it was a lucky shot."
Later that day, a representative from the crocodiles released a statement acknowledging their failure. In part, the statement read, "We could have and should have been the ones to end Steve Irwin's life. The entire crocodile community bears responsibility and expresses our collective disappointment at our failure."
An anonymous crocodile living in the San Diego Zoo who was a member of AASI spoke candidly about the statement. "We dropped the ball. Of all the animals, Irwin came in contact with us the most. Heck, he called himself the Crocodile Hunter. It's not like we didn't try. We all had Steve Irwin's picture, were on red alert, and all had instructions to take him out on sight. I myself used to watch his show to study his moves in case I got the chance and even practiced on a Steve Irwin dummy. But Irwin is not only clever, but really fast. We just couldn't pull the trigger."
In summing up their press conference, the spokes-lion for AASI said, "The moral to Steve Irwin's life is this: if you see a lion or a tarantula or a crocodile, you run. You don't want to end up like Steve Irwin."