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REMEMBERING OUR CROCODILE HUNTER
News Source: Sunshine Coast Daily (4th September 2007)
by Amy Remeikis
Click image to enlarge

I know Steve would be so proud of us

ALL around the world, many people will be thinking of Steve Irwin today.

But no one more so than his wife.

Terri Irwin and her children, Bindi and Bob, are spending the first anniversary of Steve's death away from the zoo where they made so many happy memories together, choosing instead to travel to a private getaway in the US.

This time last year, Terri and the children were at Tasmania's Cradle Mountain where they learnt a stingray barb had pierced Steve's heart while he was filming on Batt Reef near Port Douglas. Every moment since has been a roller coaster of emotions for the woman Steve called his soul mate, but Terri said she feels blessed to be able to continue keeping her husband’s dreams alive.

"Life without Steve has been impossible to comprehend," she said in a statement to the Daily.

"A few months after his death, I began to get my thoughts together for the future. I remembered a conversation Steve and I had not long after we were married. Steve said, 'if anything happens to me, promise to keep the zoo running'.

"It wasn't an enormous commitment. With only 10 staff and four acres, I readily agreed to keep Australia Zoo going and growing. I never imagined tragedy would strike and I never imagined how immense the zoo would grow."

Terri credits support from "rock solid friends and family" for giving her the strength to keep going and said she knows Steve would be proud of what his staff, friends and family have accomplished in his memory.

"I would like to say thank you to everyone who has sent messages of love and support, we greatly appreciate it. We look forward to celebrating Steve’s life and achievements through Steve Irwin Day on November 15. Steve left an extraordinary legacy, which I will ensure lives on forever."

Steve's family and friends have marked November 15 as a day of celebration, with fans encouraged to wear khaki, camp out in their backyards or visit the zoo.

Today will be spent in reflection of a man famous for his passion for the environment and every creature within it.

Business as usual at the zoo

IT is business as usual at Australia Zoo today, with Steve Irwin's friends and family choosing to treat the anniversary of the Crocodile Hunter’s death as a quiet, private day away from the public eye.

Those closest to Steve have marked November 15 as the day they will celebrate Steve's life and accomplishments, and the zoo has no special events planned for today.

But that didn't stop his fans from reflecting yesterday on what they had lost when they visited the zoo he called home.

"I came here last year on the same day and couldn’t believe it the next day when I heard he had died," said Greta Smithe.

"I came back as a sort of pilgrimage, I suppose. I can’t believe it has been a year."

"I just realised it had been a year a few weeks ago when Jessica, my daughter, turned one," New Zealand’s Anthea Lees said.

"He died just after she was born."

"Even in New Zealand, you felt sad when you heard the news," her husband Dan said.

"I guess he was that sort of person.

"He is the reason we came here on our visit (to Australia)."

Image of Steve is as fresh as ever

ONE year after his death, Steve Irwin's image still stops people in the street.

Former Beerwah artist Jason Swain was surfing in New Carolina when news broke that the Crocodile Hunter had died. He was immediately taken back to the late 1980’s when he would often see his larrikin neighbour riding a Sunshine Coast beach break.

While driving home, the portrait artist decided to paint a mural on the side of his van as homage to the original wildlife warrior and, one year on, the lifelike image on his vehicle is enough to stop people in their tracks.

The mural became something of a tourist attraction in the area he lived in so, wanting to honour the man who turned "the small reptile park on the side of the highway into an empire which he created from the ground up", Jason created a portrait of Steve with one of his beloved reptiles which was presented to Terri, Bindi and Bob earlier this year.

The image proved so popular it was reproduced as a limited edition print with proceeds from the sale going to the Irwins' Wildlife Warrior Foundation.

"It’s so hard to believe it has been a year already," Jason said from his Maryland home. "He has not been forgotten. He had such an engaging presence and a positive effect on everyone he met. He was just that sort of person."


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