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Conservation Parks suffer a blow? The Crocodile Hunter dies in the field

Sea World Orlando: Will the loss of the Crocodile Hunter effect conservation efforts at animal parks?

From Erik Yates
Posted September 4, 2006 at 11:54 AM
Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin has died of a Sting ray barb through the heart. Its a very sad day, for conservationists and animal lovers everywhere. This is more of a tribute to him than anything to do with theme parks, but Sea World and all of the Busch Parks come to mind. They, much like Irwin, try to teach the world that animals that we dont understand should not be feared, but approached with a cautious respect. Granted, Mr. Irwin was pierced through the heart, and the animals at Sea World have their barbs removed, but does this bring about more fear that someone like the Crocodile Hunter can be taken down by a seemingly docile creature? One thing is certain, his antics have taught me, among others, understanding for a lot of creatures that frankly scared the pants off of me, and made me embrace parks that have a strong conservation theme such as Sea World.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Adrienne McDonald
Posted September 4, 2006 at 3:07 PM
The cameraman said the ray probably felt threatened due to Irwin being right on top of it & the cameraman directly in front of it so it went defensive mode. They said that sharks tend to be in the area too so the ray probably thought the 2 men were sharks or some predatory animal. Very sad. It happened apparantly in shallow water too. I actually had begun to like Irwin. He usta get on my nerves so-to-speak but after I saw the Croc Hunter movie I liked him. They usually don't attack unless stepped on or feel like someone's/something's too close to them. Just remember you should swish your feet walking in the ocean & just leave the animals alone, not try to touch them. Manta rays don't sting, they're huge creatures but generally have no problem letting ppl "ride" them (from what I've learned anyway). He will def. be missed by those who liked him.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted September 4, 2006 at 3:58 PM
I do think it was a sad thing that happened! I think he will really get missed.
I I do not think the conservation parks will hurt with people being afraid of the animals. I think this takes away the face of conservation efforts. He was the most famous face in animal biology out there because he had appeal (love or hate him, you knew who he was and what he was doing). People would see him on TV and then want to help out with conservation efforts or go to a zoo or Seaworld or Animal Kingdom. This is how it is going to hurt. He made their goals aware to the public. Also, I thought that he did not usually respect the space of animals on his show in the wild. I mean how many times did you watch the show and he just rushed on an alligator? I know he was a professional, but that still was crazy! He was always in danger and thats what made him appealing, the danger. If he taught us anything, it was not how to appoach a wild animal.

Whatver his tatics was, it still is a sad and great loss for any company that handles animals (Busch, Disney, zoos, etc). They have lost their figurehead and teacher. His wife is a very respected biologist as well. Perhaps we will hear from her more. I am very saddened because I thought he was one of the most unique personalities in today's world!

From Steve Rogers
Posted September 4, 2006 at 4:31 PM
Great Guy, Great Personality! Couldn't believe it when I heard he had been killed this morning.....

Especially as to how it happened.

Things makes me think though. You can swim with stingrays in Discovery Cove can you not in the ray pool. So is this dangerous if they accidentaly get scared? Or are these a certain ray that wont....

From Erik Yates
Posted September 4, 2006 at 5:01 PM
As with any wild animals, these rays will scared if you approach them the wrong way. The difference between these rays and the ones that were involved with Mr. Irwin...those rays have their stingers. Doesnt make for good practice to have stingers and tourists...they dont mix very well together.
And it does throw a bad spin on conservation, for both the parks who have made great strides in getting people to get away from the "JAWS" frame of mind in all aquatic creatures, and for conservation efforts in general. Irwin was the go to guy, he made the Australian zoo the place for animals all over the world.

From Adrienne McDonald
Posted September 4, 2006 at 5:04 PM
I think manta rays are the only 'rays' that don't have stingers. I could be wrong though but I at least know mantas have no stingers. I think someone said previously that the rays in places like Discovery Cove, etc. had their stingers removed so I'd think that were true if they allowed ppl to touch them like in the "pet a stingray" tank but either way, I'm sure those were hand-raised so they'd be somewhat used to being handled or touched.

From Steve Rogers
Posted September 4, 2006 at 5:23 PM
Yea Im sure there is no risk to people or Im sure they wouldnt do it...

I was just curious thats all. Thanks for the answers

From Sean Rust
Posted September 4, 2006 at 6:02 PM
Nope, BEC has Jack Hannahy and Julia Scardina. Jack is safe b/c koala bears have no teeth.

From Mark Walker
Posted September 5, 2006 at 1:22 AM
I would have thought a crocodile would have got him instead of a ray.

But their will never be another guy like Steve Iwrin. Goodbye Steve, we'll miss you.

From Tom C
Posted September 5, 2006 at 5:49 AM
This was the official statement by Discovery Cove:

Our sympathy goes out to the Irwin family for their loss. Please be assured that this is an extremely rare incident. There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our employees, guests and animals, and there is no chance of such an instance happening at our park. We regularly trim the barbs on our stingrays - a painless procedure very similar to trimming a dog's nails There is no safer place in the world to interact with marine life than our parks, and we look forward to your visit.

--------------------------
Stewart J. Clark
Discovery Cove

From Adrienne McDonald
Posted September 5, 2006 at 10:56 AM
Yeah I heard on the news last night & today, they do the same thing at the Houston aquarium & the Atlanta aquarium, only trim the barbs, never removing them. They say they grow back but they keep them safely trimmed. I feel better now. :)

From Erik Yates
Posted September 5, 2006 at 1:41 PM
And that was exactly the thing I was talking about. The auto responses that people would have with theme parks that offer animal interaction. "The crocodile hunter died from a stingray....are these animals safe?"
Its good that Sea World came out and made the statement.

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