I was shocked and stunned when I woke up this morning to hear of Steve Irwin's accident.
I never met Steve personally - to be honest, for a while I thought of him as a bit of a joke - some hyperactive ocker maniac, giving us Aussies a bad name overseas. (I mean, over here, as soon as you say you're from Australia, it's a matter of time before an American asks you if you know the 'Crocodile Hunter'...)
But that all changed the day I took my kids to visit the Australia Zoo, up on the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland. There, built around his parent's original reptile park, is a fantastic and huge zoo that is focused on protecting animals and educating people as to the way the natural world works. My Family and I spent the whole day attending shows and walks, and feeding Elephants and Kangaroos, and by the time I walked out, I felt privileged to have been a part of Steve and Terri's passion and enthusiasm for the natural world, and the way that they managed to manifest such a great environment to share it with everyone.
There's a strange irony about the way he died - I remember my Dad telling me that the only way a Sting-Ray ever killed anyone was by stinging them right in the heart. Plenty of other people have been stung by sting-rays and survived just fine (well, maybe not just fine, there's usually lots of blood and screaming, but it's not like you die or anything...)
I'm sure there are a plenty of people who share in my sadness today - I just thought I'd add my voice to theirs - It's horrible when a family loses a Dad.