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Fans Mourn `Crocodile Hunter' at Zoo

September 06, 2006|From the Associated Press

BEERWAH, Australia — People thronged the entrance to the Australia Zoo wildlife reserve Tuesday to sign messages on khaki work shirts draped outside the gate, after the death of owner Steve Irwin.

The man known as the "Crocodile Hunter" was killed Monday in a freak accident when a stingray barb pierced his heart as he taped an underwater documentary. His body was returned home to Beerwah, a hamlet in southeastern Queensland.

Zoo spokesman Peter Lang said Irwin's wife, Terri, daughter Bindi, 8, and son Bob, 2, arrived Monday night from Tasmania, where they had been vacationing when Irwin was killed.

Irwin's widow thanked the staff of his wildlife park in her first comments on his death, a spokesman said today.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie had offered a state funeral, but Irwin would not have wanted that because he would want to be remembered as "an ordinary bloke," the TV star's father said today. Bob Irwin, in a news conference broadcast live across Australia, said that he was deeply saddened but that his son died doing what he loved.

In Cairns, Irwin's friend and longtime manager, John Stainton, was quoted as saying that the videotape of 44-year-old Irwin's death was shocking.

The tape was not released to the public.

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