KHAKI KING ALONE FOR CHRISTMAS
News Source: Sunshine Coast Daily, page 6, Sunday 26th December, 2004
By: Neil Hickey
It’s Christmas Eve and the king is holding court. The King of Khaki, that is.
When Steve Irwin’s performing, it’s the people as much as the animals eating out of his hand.
If the jolly fat guy in the red suit is the hottest act in town, the Crocodile Hunter is a close second.
They’ve come from everywhere to get a glimpse of him.
“I watch a lot of him on TV so it’s a good Christmas present to see him,” said Tobias Christensen, a 23-year-old from Denmark.
“He’s so energetic, so passionate.”
Ashwin Sivanesan, a 20-year-old student from Ohio, got even closer.
“After the show he road by and I said ‘Nice show man’ and he was like ‘Yeah thanks’. I’m like ‘I got to talk to Steve Irwin’,” he said.
And Irwin – for all his love of wildlife – is savvy enough to know his popularity.
Until Australia Zoo can boast tigers that tap dance and crocs who do long division, he’s top dog.
“I’d like to think it was the elephants or the tigers or the cheetahs or the crocodiles, but no, I’m the biggest attraction at the zoo,” he said.
The same goes for the marketing.
While wife Terri and children Bindi and even one-year-old Bob have all fronted advertising campaigns, it’s Irwin’s omnipresent face and Australiana tongue which are the zoo’s most valuable marketing tools.
Zoo officials guard their attendance figures like their animals, but admit Christmas is their most important period.
Important enough for Irwin to spend the holiday this year without his family, who are enjoying a white Christmas in the United States with Terri’s parents.
Irwin has already unwrapped his presents by Christmas Eve (a gift hamper and a book of famous quotes, since you asked) but admitted Bob and Bindi wouldn’t have to bother with unwrapping theirs.
“They got cheetahs from me – you don’t have to worry about wrapping cheetahs,” he laughed.