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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin Killed

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SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Steve Irwin, the Australian TV presenter known as the "Crocodile Hunter," has died after being stung in a marine accident off Australia's north coast.

Australian media reports say Irwin was diving in waters off Port Douglas, north of Cairns, when the incident happened on Monday morning.

Irwin was killed by a stingray barb that went through his chest, according to Cairns police sources. Irwin was filming an underwater documentary at the time.

Ambulance officers confirmed they attended a reef fatality Monday morning off Port Douglas, according to Australian media.

Queensland Police Services also confirmed Irwin's death and said his family had been notified. Irwin, 44, was director of the Australian Zoo in Queensland.

He and his American-born wife Terri Irwin became popular figures on Australian and international television through Irwin's close handling of wildlife, most notably the capture of live crocodiles.

Irwin's enthusiastic approach to nature conservation and the environment won him a global following. He was known for his exuberance and use of the catchphrase "crikey!"

But his image suffered a setback in 2004 when he held his then one-month-old baby while feeding a crocodile at his Australian zoo.

Irwin's wife Terri was believed to be on location in Tasmania, filming another documentary.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer expressed his sorry Monday and said that he was fond of Irwin and was very appreciative of all the work he had done in promoting Australia overseas.

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Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin Killed

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin

BRISBANE, Australia -- Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and environmentalist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday, September 4 by a stingray during a diving expedition. He was 44.

Irwin was filming an underwater documentary on the Great Barrier Reef in northeastern Queensland state when he was stung, Sydney's The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on its Web site.

He collapsed at Batt Reef, near Low Isle and the resort town of Port Douglas, Queensland state police said in a statement. Port Douglas is about 1,260 miles north of Brisbane, the state capital.

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin

A rescue helicopter rushed to the scene but Irwin had died, the statement said. Queensland ambulance service spokesman Bob Hamil confirmed that a diver had been killed by a stingray off Lowe Isles Reef and said cause of death appeared to be a "stingray strike to the chest."

Irwin was famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchword "Crikey!" in his television program "Crocodile Hunter," which was first broadcast in Australia in 1992 and has aired around the world on the Discovery channel. He rode his image into a feature film, and developed the Australia Zoo as a tourist attraction.

Irwin had received some negative publicity in recent years. In January 2004, he stunned onlookers at the Australia Zoo reptile park by carrying his month-old son into a crocodile pen during a wildlife show. He tucked the infant under one arm while tossing the 13-foot reptile a piece of meat with the other.

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin and wife Terri

holding a joey (baby kangaroo)

Authorities declined to charge Irwin for violating safety regulations. Later that year, he was accused of getting too close to penguins, a seal and humpback whales in Antarctica while making a documentary. Irwin denied any wrongdoing, and an Australian Environment Department investigation recommended no action be taken.

Irwin was also seen as a vocal critic of wildlife hunts in Australia. The federal government recently dropped plans to allow crocodile safaris for wealthy tourists in the Northern Territory following his vehement objections.

Irwin told the Australian television program "A Current Affair" that "killing one of our beautiful animals in the name of trophy hunting will have a very negative impact on tourism, which scares the living daylights out of me."

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Terri and Steve Irwin pose with daughter Bindi and

a friendly stuffed plush crocodile

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who used a photograph of his family at Australia Zoo for his official Christmas card last year, hailed Irwin for his work in promoting Australia through projects such as "G'Day LA," an Australian tourism and trade promotion week in Los Angeles in January.

"The minister knew him, was fond of him and was very, very appreciative of all the work he'd done to promote Australia overseas," Downer's spokesman Tony Parkinson said.

Stingrays have flat bodies and tails with serrated spines, which contain venom and can cause cuts and puncture wounds. The creatures are not aggressive and injury usually occurs when a swimmer or diver accidentally steps on one.

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A wooden crocodile holds flowers from well-wishers outside the

Australia Zoo at Beerwah, for 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin who

was killed Monday by a stingray barb to his heart

News of Irwin's death spread quickly, and tributes flowed from all quarters of society. At Australia Zoo at Beerwah, south Queensland, floral tributes were dropped at the entrance, where a huge fake crocodile gapes. Drivers honked their horns as they passed.

"Steve, from all God's creatures, thank you. Rest in peace," was written on a card with a bouquet of native flowers.

"We're all very shocked. I don't know what the zoo will do without him. He's done so much for us, the environment and it's a big loss," said Paula Kelly, a local resident and volunteer at the zoo, after dropping off a wreath at the gate.

Irwin is survived by his American wife Terri, from Eugene, Oregon and two children, daughter Bindi Sue, 8, and son Bob Clarence, who will turn 3 in December.

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin

by Paul Tait

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin

SYDNEY, Australia -- Steve Irwin, the quirky Australian naturalist who won worldwide acclaim as TV's khaki-clad "Crocodile Hunter," was killed by a stingray barb through the chest on Monday, September 4, while diving off the country's northeast coast.

Witnesses and emergency officials said the freak accident happened while Irwin, 44, was filming an underwater documentary off Port Douglas in northern Queensland. "Steve was hit by a stingray in the chest," said local diving operator Steve Edmondson, whose Poseidon boats were out on the Great Barrier Reef when the accident occurred.

A helicopter rushed paramedics to nearby Low Isles where Irwin was taken for treatment, but he was dead before they arrived, police said. "He probably died from a cardiac arrest from the injury," Edmondson said.

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Terri and 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin

Fellow-Australian wildlife filmmaker David Ireland said he was shocked and saddened by Irwin's death, adding that a stingray's barb could be as deadly as a rifle bayonet.

"They have one or two barbs in the tails which are not only coated in toxic material but are also like a bayonet, like a bayonet on a rifle," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting radio. "If it hits any vital organs it's as deadly as a bayonet," Ireland said.

Known around the world for his catchphrase "Crikey" during close encounters with wild animals, Irwin made almost 50 documentaries which appeared on the cable TV channel Animal Planet. He became a virtual global industry generating books, interactive games and even toy action figures.

Grew Up With Reptiles

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin

Born on February 22, 1962, in the southern Australian city of Melbourne, Irwin moved to tropical Queensland where his parents ran a small reptile and fauna park. He grew up near crocodiles, trapping and removing them from populated areas and releasing them in his parent's park.

Irwin took over the park in 1991 and renamed it the "Australia Zoo." Irwin became famous for his seemingly death-defying skill with wild animals, including crocodiles and snakes.

Irwin met his U.S.-born wife Terri at the zoo and the footage of their honeymoon -- which they spent trapping crocodiles -- formed the basis of his first "Crocodile Hunter" documentary. Later shows had a worldwide audience of 200 million, or 10 times the population of Australia. Terri became Irwin's business partner and frequent on-screen collaborator.

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The Irwin Family (L-R) Terri, Bob, Steve and Bindi

The Irwins have two children, daughter, Bindi Sue, 8 and son, Bob Clarence, who will turn 3 in December. News of Irwin's death shocked ordinary Australians, while government and opposition lawmakers rushed to issue statements of condolence within two hours of the first reports of his death.

Queensland Tourism Minister Margaret Keech told Sky Television. She said, "It's a dreadful loss for the tourism industry and for nature conservation. Everybody who met Steve was impressed with his energy and his enthusiasm, he was a real Aussie larrikin."

Irwin won a global following for his dare-devil antics but also triggered outrage in 2004 by holding his then one-month-old son while feeding a snapping crocodile at his Australian zoo. "The Crocodile Hunter" series ended after he was criticized for the incident with his young son.

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin was criticized

for holding his infant son, Bob, in one arm

while feeding a crocodile at the Australia Zoo.

Irwin was also criticized for allegedly disturbing whales, seals and penguins while filming in Antarctica. Irwin boasted that he had never been bitten by a venomous snake or seriously bitten by a crocodile, although admitted his worst injuries had been inflicted by parrots.

"I don't know what it is with parrots but they always bite me," Irwin once said. "A cockatoo once tried to rip the end of my nose off. I don't know what they've got against me."

Irwin is survived by his wife, the former Terri Raines of Oregon before they married in 1992, their daughter Bindi Sue, 8, and son Bob Clarence, who will turn 3 in December.

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'Croc Hunter' Irwin Killed by Stingray

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'Croc Hunter' Steve Irwin

World famous wildlife warrior Steve Irwin has died in a freak accident on the Great Barrier Reef, killed by a stingray barb which pierced his chest. Friends believe the "Crocodile Hunter," 44, may have died instantly when struck by the stingray while filming a sequence for his eight-year-old daughter Bindi's new TV series.

The TV star and naturalist's final, fatal confrontation with a wild animal occurred in shallow water at Batt Reef off Port Douglas on Monday morning. Unconscious, he was pulled aboard his research vessel, Croc One, for a 30-minute dash to Low Isle, where an emergency helicopter had been summoned at about 11am, his Australia Zoo said in a statement.

The crew of the Croc One performed constant CPR during the voyage to Low Isle, but medical staff pronounced Irwin dead about noon. Irwin's death was only the third known stingray death in Australian waters, said shark and stingray expert Victoria Brims. Wildlife experts said the normally passive creatures only sting in defense, striking with a bayonet-like barb when they feel threatened or are trodden on.

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Terri and 'Croc Hunter' Steve Irwin take on a crocodile in the wild

Those with Irwin say he was swimming in shallow water, snorkelling as his cameraman filmed large bull rays. "He came over the top of a stingray and the stingray's barb went up and went into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Irwin's friend and manager John Stainton.

Stainton said he and Irwin were in north Queensland to film a new documentary called, "Ocean's Deadliest." Stainton explained, "It's likely that he possibly died instantly when the barb hit him, and I don't think that he . . . felt any pain. He died doing what he loved best."

Irwin's body was flown to a morgue in Cairns, where stunned family and friends were gathering on Monday night. His American-born wife Terri was told of her husband's death while on a walking tour in Tasmania, and has returned to the Sunshine Coast with her two children, Bindi and three-year-old son Bob.

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin with a cuddly tiger cub

The death of the larger than life Irwin, best known for his catchcry "Crikey!," caused shockwaves around the world, leading TV bulletins in the United States and Britain. He was one of Australia's best known personalities internationally and a valuable ambassador for the nation and its wildlife.

Irwin was also a global phenomenon, making almost 50 documentaries which appeared on the cable TV channel, Animal Planet, and which generated books, interactive games and even toy action figures.

Prime Minister John Howard, once lauded by Irwin as the world's greatest leader, said: "I am quite shocked and distressed at Steve Irwin's sudden, untimely and freakish death. It's a huge loss to Australia. He was a wonderful character. He was a passionate environmentalist. He brought joy and entertainment and excitement to millions of people."

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Floral tributes were placed in the mouth

of a crocodile at the entrance of Irwin's

Australia Zoo

"He was a great Australian," added Tourism Australia chairman Tim Fischer. Mourners laid flowers at the entrance of Irwin's Australia Zoo, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. Stainton said bad weather had stopped filming for their documentary about some of the world's deadliest sea creatures.

Irwin instead decided on a whim to shoot footage for his daughter Bindi's upcoming series. "He said 'I might just go off and shoot some segments for Bindi's show, just stuff on the reef and little animals," Stainton said.

"I just said fine, anything that would keep him moving and keep his adrenalin going," Stainton continued. "The next thing I heard on the radio was there was a medical emergency, the little dinghy he was in was bringing him back with the crew."

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Director/producer John Stainton directs Terri and Steve Irwin on

the set of MGM's 'The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course'

"Everyone tried absolutely tirelessly to revive him . . . to keep him alive," Stainton added. "We cut dinghies loose and made it post haste to Low Isle where we knew the chopper would be able to get in, but I think it's possible he probably died at 11 a.m."

Marine documentary maker Ben Cropp said he had spoken to one of Irwin's production crew. "Steve got probably maybe a bit too close to the ray, and with the cameraman in front, the ray must have felt sort of cornered."

Cropp explained, "It went into a defensive mode, stopped, turned around and lashed out with its tail, which has a considerable spike on it. Unfortunately Steve was directly in its path and he took a fatal wound."

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin with a baby

alligator at the San Francisco Zoo

University of Melbourne expert Bryan Fry said stingrays only sting in defense. "Stingrays only sting in defense; they're not aggressive animals so the animal must have felt threatened. It didn't sting out of aggression, it stung out of fear," said Dr. Fry, deputy director of the Australian Venom Research.

He said the stingray would have been up to 2.5 metres across, with a "formidable" jagged barb up to 20cm long, capable of tearing flesh. But the stingray's venom would not have been a factor.

Irwin was comfortable around animals, no matter how dangerous, and some wildlife experts warned he took too many risks. "(But) nothing would ever scare Steve or would worry him. He didn't have a fear of death at all," Stainton said on Monday. Irwin's enthusiasm and daring made him famous.

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'The Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin on Animal Planet

The Melbourne-born father of two's "Crocodile Hunter" program was first broadcast in 1992 and has been shown around the world on cable network Discovery. He also starred in movies and helped developed the Australia Zoo wildlife park, north of Brisbane, which was started by his parents, Bob and Lyn Irwin.

He grew up near crocodiles, trapping and removing them from populated areas and releasing them in his parents' park, which he took over in 1991. It was at Irwin's Australia Zoo that he met American Terri Raines ftom Oregon when she went on vacation in Australia in 1991.

Terri and Steve Irwin were married six months later in 1992. Sometimes referred to as the "Crocodile Huntress," Terri costarred on her husband's television show and in his 2002 movie. Steve was involved in a controversial incident in January 2004, when he held his infant son, Bob, in one arm as he fed a dead chicken to a crocodile.

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin shows affection for a camel

Child welfare and animal rights groups criticized Irwin's actions at the Australia Zoo as irresponsible and tantamount to child abuse. Irwin said any danger to his son was only a perceived danger and that he was in complete control of the situation.

In June 2004, Irwin came under fire again when it was alleged he came too close to and disturbed some whales, seals and penguins while filming a documentary in Antarctica. Irwin had close links with Howard and was a guest at The Lodge during a function for U.S. President George W. Bush in 2003.

Irwin was also a tourism ambassador and was heavily involved in last year's "G'Day LA" tourism campaign. Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said Irwin was an "extraordinary man." "He has made an enormous difference to his state and his country," he said.

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For some reason when I read he had died, I felt an immense loss...moreso than any other celebrity who has died (with the exception of John Ritter). It's pretty sad. He was still quite young and had a lovely family. I hope they're doing well.

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I experienced the same thing ElleNaturelle. Somehow it feels to me as if a relative has died.

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Just awful!!!!!!!!My kids watch him on tv all the time I cant believe it seems unreal.My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

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Same here... it's just so sad. My oldest daughter LOVES animals and watches Steve all the time. When we told her this morning it was very disheartening for her.

My only solace is that he was doing what he loves and that he obviously has lived his life to it's fullest. I pray for him and his wife, children and family.

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He just seemed like such a positive, enthusiastic guy, that was living life to the fullest. It's sad when those type of people pass and so young. his poor babies, may he rest in peace. :(

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Killed by a Stingray which are not known to be aggressive.There barb can cause serious injuries but in most cases reported rarely do you see them a subject of a fatal attack. Im sure in the days to come we'll find out if "The Croc Hunter" was being aggressive with this species that turned the stingray defensive. Sad news and my prayers go out to his family.

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I am a BIG fan of Steve-o and was horrified at his death.Not only was he entertaining but he shed so much light on so many animals.It was invaluable information & thank gawd someone has the guts to get out there like he did & not only learn it but SHARE it with US!I've heard a few medias(go figure) <_< toss in their 2 cents concerning the time he held Bob his son while feeding a big croc.It was dismissed & no charges filed because due to his experience,the actual distance & angle at no time was the child actually in danger.In fact just placing you child in a car to drive around the block is statistically more dangerous.But leave it to the media or the ignorant to make a fuss about something they don't need to.

My heart goes out to Terri,Bindy & Bob.Bob won't remember his enthusiastic famous dad.Luckily TV captured him a million times.Hoping Terri & maybe the kids continue his incredible work.From myself & countless critters...THANKS STEVE!

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I was really bummed to hear about this. They guy was a dork at times (in a fun way) but did a lot for Nature Conservation and did good things for Australia. I feel for his wife and kids. Very sad.

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Actually, news reports have said it was a freak accident. Eyewitnesses have said the barb pierced his heart which probably caused a cardiac arrest and officials speculate that was likely the cause of death. One report said there might have been some confusion between the cameraman and Irwin swimming over the stingray. If the barb had pierced any other place on his body, he would be in some pain but recovering from the injury.

I talked to my neighbor today to see if he has heard any inside information. He's one of the vets at the San Diego Zoo/Wild Animal Park. He said all he heard today was the freak part of the accident and the overwhelming sadness as well as outpouring of affection in Australia toward their fallen conservationalist and animal expert pioneer.

I had the privilege of meeting the Irwins on a couple of occasions thanks to my neighbor and I can tell you they were a lovely and loving couple who lit up a room when they entered. I had more interaction with Terri than Steve but even her quiet grace made an impression.

My prayers are with Terri, Bindi and Bob. I would not be surprised if daughter Bindi is the one to take up her father's environmental torch and become the next pint-sized wildlife ambassador.

For those interested in hearing a first-hand account, Irwin's director/producer John Stainton will be interviewed on "Larry King Live" tomorrow night, Tuesday, September 5 at 9 p.m. on CNN. Animal Expert 'Jungle' Jim Hanna will also be part of the discussion.

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'Irwin Did Not Intimidate Stingray'

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Terri and 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin shared a passion

for their family and animal wildlife conservation

Police have viewed video footage of "Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin's final moments and ruled out that he was intimidating or threatening the stingray that killed him. Surf Life Saving Queensland has said it is vital not to swim over rays as their barbs can inflict a fatal sting on the trunk of the body.

Irwin died after being stabbed by the ray's barbed tail as he swam over it yesterday during a film shoot on tiger sharks at the Great Barrier Reef. Authorities say stingrays only flick their barbs upwards in an involuntary reflex action if they feel threatened.

Superintendent Mike Keating said today police had viewed footage of Irwin's death. "There is no evidence that Irwin was intimidating or threatening the stingray," he said. "My advice is that he was observing the stingray. There are no suspicious circumstances in relation to the death of Mr Irwin."

Irwin's Body Flown from Cairns

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Fellow Aussie Russell Crowe, left, helps 'Crocodile Hunter'

Steve Irwin, center, handle a snake on 'The Tonight Show

with Jay Leno'

The body of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin has been flown to the Sunshine Coast from far north Queensland. Irwin, 44, died after being stabbed in the chest by a stingray barb while snorkelling off Port Douglas, in far north Queensland, yesterday. His casket was flown from Cairns and is due to arrive at a Sunshine Coast airport later this afternoon.

Close friend John Stainton, who was accompanying the body, said Irwin's funeral arrangements would be left to the family after Queensland Premier Peter Beattie offered a state funeral. Stainton said a state funeral would be a fitting tribute to Irwin's contributions to Queensland and Australia.

"I haven't thought about and I don't know how they would react to it but I feel that when you're in a public place like he was, that people do need to be able to share some closure," Stainton said. "I think it probably would be fitting but it's up to Terri."

Irwin leaves behind his American-born wife of 14 years, Terri and their two children, daughter Bindi Sue, 8, and Bob Clarence, 2.

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Steve Irwin's Death Caught on Tape

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin shares a solitude moment with his

beloved dog, Sui

CAIRNS, Australia -- Steve Irwin was videotaped pulling a poisonous stingray barb from his chest in his last moments of life, officials said Tuesday, as tributes poured in for TV's "Crocodile Hunter."

Police said there was nothing suspicious about Irwin's death and no evidence he provoked the animal. Irwin, 44, was stabbed through the heart on Monday while snorkeling with a stingray during filming of a new TV program on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

John Stainton, Irwin's manager who was among the crew on the reef, said the fatal blow was caught on videotape, and described viewing the footage as having the "terrible" experience of watching a friend die.

"It shows that Steve came over the top of the ray and the tail came up, and spiked him here (in the chest), and he pulled it out and the next minute he's gone," Stainton told reporters in Cairns, where Irwin 's body was taken for an autopsy.

Queensland state police were holding the tape as evidence for a coroner's inquiry - a standard procedure in high-profile deaths or those caused by other than natural causes.

Experts have said the stingray may have felt trapped between the cameraman and the TV star. Irwin, the popular host of "Crocodile Hunter," rose to fame by getting dangerously close to crocodiles, snakes and other beasts.

But Queensland Police Superintendent Michael Keating said there was no evidence Irwin threatened or intimidated the stingray, a normally placid species that only deploys its poisonous tail spines as a defense.

Stainton said Irwin was in his element in the Outback, but that he and Irwin had talked about the sea posing threats the star wasn't used to.

"If ever he was going to go, we always said it was going to be the ocean," Stainton said. "On land he was agile, quick-thinking, quick-moving and the ocean puts another element there that you have no control over."

Parliament took a break from the business of running the country to pay tribute to Irwin, whose body was being flown home Tuesday from Cairns. No funeral plans were announced but state Premier Peter Beattie said Irwin would be afforded a state funeral if his family agreed.

Irwin's American wife Terri, 8-year-old daughter Bindi, and their son Bob, almost 3, returned late Monday from a trekking vacation in Tasmania to Australia Zoo, the wildlife park where the family lived at Beerwah in Queensland's southeast.

At the park, hundreds of people filed past the entrance laying floral bouquets and handwritten condolence messages. Khaki shirts - a trademark of Irwin - were laid out for people to sign.

"Mate, you made the world a better place," read one poster left at the gate. "Steve, our hero, our legend, our wildlife warrior," read another. "I thought you were immortal. How I wish that was true," said a third.

The park opened Tuesday because it was what Irwin would have wanted, said Gail Gipp, an animal health employee.

Irwin was propelled to global fame after his TV shows, in which he regularly wrestled with crocodiles and went face-to-face with poisonous snakes and other wild animals, were shown around world on the Discovery Channel.

Irwin was famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchword "Crikey!" in his television program "Crocodile Hunter." First broadcast in Australia in 1992, the program was picked up by the Discovery network, catapulting Irwin to international celebrity. He rode his image into a feature film, 2002's "The Crocodile Hunters: Collision Course"

The Discovery Network announced plans for a marathon screening of Irwin's work and a wildlife fund in his name. "Rarely has the world embraced an animal enthusiast and conservationist as they did Steve Irwin," Discovery Networks International President Dawn McCall said in a statement.

Prime Minister John Howard, who hand-picked Irwin to attend a gala barbecue to honor President Bush when he visited in 2003, said he was "shocked and distressed at Steve Irwin's sudden, untimely and freakish death."

"It's a huge loss to Australia," Howard told reporters. "He was a wonderful character. He was a passionate environmentalist. He brought joy and entertainment and excitement to millions of people."

Wild animal expert Jack Hanna, who frequently appears on TV with his subjects, offered praise for Irwin. "Steve was one of these guys, we thought of him as invincible," Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus (Ohio) Zoo and Aquarium, told ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday.

"The guy was incredible. His knowledge was incredible," Hanna said. "Some people that are doing this stuff are actors and that type of thing, but Steve was truly a zoologist, so to speak, a person who knew what he was doing. Yes, he did things a lot of people wouldn't do. I think he knew what he was doing."

Irwin's ebullience was infectious and Australian officials sought him out for photo opportunities and to promote Australia internationally.

His public image was dented, however, in 2004 when he caused an uproar by holding his infant son in one arm while feeding large crocodiles inside a zoo pen. Irwin claimed at the time there was no danger to the child, and authorities declined to charge Irwin with violating safety regulations.

Later that year, he was accused of getting too close to penguins, a seal and humpback whales in Antarctica while making a documentary. Irwin denied any wrongdoing, and an Australian Environment Department investigation recommended no action be taken against him.

Stingrays have a serrated, toxin-loaded barb, or spine, on the top of their tail. The barb, which can be up to 10 inches long, flexes if a ray is frightened. Stings usually occur to people when they step on or swim too close to a ray and can be excruciatingly painful but are rarely fatal, said University of Queensland marine neuroscientist Shaun Collin.

Experts differed on the number of human deaths caused by stingrays - anywhere from 3 to 17 - though they agreed that they were extremely rare.

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I am with all of you, when I heard of this yesterday I felt such sadness. He was way to young to go, but I guess one good thing is he did go doing something that he loved. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and kids.

My nephew absolutley adores him, so I have watched many of his shows/movies with him, and even played crocodile hunter with him. my brother kept the news from him at first because he didnt know if it was true (no internet in their house) so when I told him about it this morning his heart broke, because we know his son will be very very sad over this.

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Terri Irwin Prefers Small Memorial for Soul Mate

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Terri Irwin

Steve Irwin's widow has told of losing her soul mate, as plans were announced for a public memorial service at the Crocodile Hunter's wildlife park. Terri Irwin was due to hold a news conference outside Australia Zoo on Wednesday, September 13 to announce details of the service for her husband, but was too upset.

At the news conference, Steve Irwin's father, Bob, read a statement from Terri Irwin in which she thanked the public for their "overwhelming outpouring of love, support and prayers for my family." She referred to Steve as her "soul mate" and "wildlife warrior."

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The Irwin Family: (L-R) Terri, Bob, Bindi and Steve

Terri Irwin has remained in seclusion with her children, Bindi, 8, and Bob, 2, since her husband's death from a stingray barb to the chest over the Great Barrier Reef last week. Steve Irwin's manager, John Stainton, said Terri and Bindi would address the memorial service on Wednesday, September 20.

The service will be held at the 5500-seat Crocoseum at Australia Zoo, north of Brisbane. Terri Irwin said in the statement that she knew larger Brisbane venues, such as Suncorp Stadium and the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, had been earmarked for the service.

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Steve Irwin, musician John Williamson and Terri Irwin

Terri Irwin asked that the public "respect her wishes" to hold the memorial service at the Australia Zoo, "where Steve would have wanted it." She said the service would be broadcast live on television through the ABC to Australia, Asia and the United States.

Stainton said it would be a tribute to Irwin's life, from the boy to the man, with guests sharing their memories of him. He said John Williamson would perform Steve's favorite song, "True Blue," but the memorial would not be an "elaborate variety show."

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Steve and Terri Irwin on their wedding day

In the statement, Stainton continued, "It's more a tribute to Steve's life and a celebration of what he was about. We're going to try to cover as many facets of his whole entire life from when he was a little boy to when he left us."

Stainton had said that tickets could be reserved by making a donation to Steve Irwin's charity, Wildlife Warriors Worldwide. But he said later that Australia Zoo and Ticketek at Brisbane and Maroochydore distributed 3000 free tickets to the memorial.

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I watched the tribute tonight and cried like a baby. What a wonderful man. SO sad he is gone.

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Bindi's Touching Tribute to Her Dad

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin's daughter, Bindi, reads a speech at a

memorial service for her father at Australia Zoo on September 20

Bindi Irwin's speech at her father Steve Irwin's memorial service at Australia Zoo:

"My Daddy was my hero - he was always there for me when I needed him. He listened to me and taught me so many things but most of all he was fun.

I know that daddy had an important job. He was working to change the world so everyone would love wildlife like he did. He built a hospital to help animals and he bought lots of land to give animals a safe place to live.

He took me and my brother and my mum with him all the time. We filmed together, caught crocodiles together and loved being in the bush together.

I don't want daddy's passion to ever end. I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did. I have the best daddy in the whole world and I will miss him every day.

When I see a crocodile I will always think of him and I know that daddy made this zoo so everyone could come and learn to love all the animals. Daddy made this place his whole life and now it's our turn to help daddy."

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Thousands Remember 'Crocodile Hunter'

by Dennis Passa

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'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin and his beloved departed dog, Sui

BEERWAH, Australia -- Friends and fans, including Hollywood stars and Australia's prime minister, bid farewell to "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin on Wednesday at a service that veered from poignant tributes to belly laughs.

Irwin's 8-year-old daughter, Bindi, hailed him as her hero; his father, Bob, asked people to end their grieving, and fans were invited to laugh at his television antics one more time.

The ceremony was carried live on three national television networks and at least one radio station. Flags on the Sydney Harbor Bridge and throughout Irwin's home state of Queensland flew at half-staff, and giant television screens were set up for people to watch the service.

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Australia's Prime Minister John Howard speaks during a memorial service

for 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin at Australia Zoo. Watching are Irwin's wife,

Terri (top second left), daughter Bindi (top left), son Bob (top third left) and

his father Bob Irwin (top right).

Prime Minister John Howard was among the 5,000 people who attended the ceremony at the "Crocoseum," the small stadium in Irwin's wildlife park where he regularly put on crocodile-feeding shows. "Steve Irwin touched the hearts of Australians and touched the hearts of millions around the world in a very special way," Howard said.

In a recorded video message from New York, Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe said: "It was way too soon for all of us. We have lost a friend, a champion." Actor Kevin Costner said in the video that Irwin was "fearless . . . He let us see who he was. That is being brave in today's society."

Irwin, 44, died September 4 when a stringray's barb pierced his chest while he filmed a TV show on the Great Barrier Reef. His family held a private funeral service for him on September 9 at the family-owned park, Australia Zoo.

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Terri Irwin is comforted by her children, Bindi and Bob

As expected, there was one empty seat at Steve Irwin's personal stadium

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