Fans In Hawaii Mourn "Crocodile Hunter"

Allen Lee
Allen Lee
Bertha Ramos
Bertha Ramos

Sep 4, 2006 08:18 PM

by Darren Pai

(KHNL) - Allen Lee's perfectly happy observing the Honolulu Zoo's crocodile exhibit from behind protective glass.

He'll leave the close encounters to someone like celebrity naturalist Steve Irwin.

"Crikey, he would always say crikey," Lee said. "But for me it was his enthusiasm. He was always gung ho on his show."

Irwin, known to fans as the Crocodile Hunter, died when he was stuck by a stingray barb while filming in the waters off Australia.

"I was in shock," said fan Bertha Ramos. "My friend called me and said guess what happened."

Children show the same kind of enthusiasm at the Zoo that Irwin did on his TV show. Fans said Irwin inspired kids to learn more about wildlife and the need to protect endangered species.

"He's really gung ho," Lee said. "it's too bad that it happened. I'm sure he went doing what he loved."

Usually passive creatures, stingrays are popular attractions at Sea Life Park and other oceanariums. But some said Irwin's death shows even seasoned wildlife handlers should be cautious.

"Be careful, give them their space," Lee said. "I don't know what happened yet, but you're playing with wild animals anything can happen."

Fans of the Crocodile Hunter said they'll remember a man who showed them how to walk on the wild side.

"I think he died doing what he liked," Ramos said. "There's a risk in everything, he took the risk."