Sure, he could be annoying. But in an age when cool trumps all, I can’t find it in me to disapprove of enthusiasm. He may have inspired more children in the love of all of nature, including “creepy- crawlies” than anyone in his generation or even mine. My little nephews are fascinated by insects and reptiles. I’ll help them with facts, but their model was the crocodile man. I’d have hated to be their mother the night his death was in the news. He was the anti- PETA, Gerald Durrell on steroids. He will be missed.
The biology blogosphere, full of people who understand mad biophilia, was full of tributes. Darren was eloquent as usual, and pointed out someting often missed when Irwin was described as a mere “showman”.
“There is also no doubt whatsoever that his knowledge and experience of wildlife was considerable, and he knew the herpetofauna of Australia and other countries down to the subspecies level. He published at least some technical articles and could easily turn his hand to the dissemination of academic information: he wasn’t only a populariser. Sure, he was a character, but then that’s pretty much the only way of making a name for yourself on TV today it seems.”
Pharyngula has another good tribute, as well as some gruesome medical details. (I do wish a few of the commenters had refrained from what amounts to politics at the funeral; apparently Irwin was some kind of a political conservative as well as a conservationist, something a few people cannot accept).
Off the “Evo- Bio” patch, Austin Bay wrote a post that generated MANY comments, from “He had a splendid life and died doing what he loved” to “He had kids so he should have commuted to a job in a cubicle”. I am at #71 I think– care to guess which side I favor?
(An aside– some insist on comparing him to California dude/ self- deluded ninny Timothy Treadwell, eaten by bears in Alaska. One significant difference might be that Irwin understood that crocs and tiger snakes were not his “friends”).
Finally, courtesy of Jonathan: formerly- sometimes- interesting Aussie feminist Germaine Greer celebrates Irwin’s death as the revenge of the animals. In a story on The Age (no direct link) she is quoted at length:
“The animal world has taken revenge on self-deluded animal tormentor
Steve Irwin, according to expatriate Australian academic and writer
“Writing in the British press following Irwin’s sudden death, Greer
said she had “not much sympathy” for the naturalist if he was
grappling with the stingray that killed him on the Great Barrier Reef.”
“”The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin, but
probably not before a whole generation of kids in shorts seven sizes
too small has learned to shout in the ears of animals with hearing
ten times more acute than theirs, determined to become millionaire
animal-loving zoo-owners in their turn.” “
Yeah, that’s what biophilia is about alright. I said rudely to Libby that she was more interestiing back when she was f*****g rock stars. Totally unfair, but why is it that everything I have seen from her in years has been embarassingly bitter? Is it a symptom of the disappoinment inherent in being an aging utopian whose dreams have not been realized?