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The Crocodile Hunter: How one document started Steve Irwin’s legacy

It all began with one document.
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How did Australian legend Steve Irwin become the “Crocodile Hunter” and ultimately build a wildlife empire? One single document which remains framed and displayed in his father, Bob Irwin’s home.

Bob confessed how a government document from 1989, permitting the father-son duo to catch and relocate problem crocodiles, created the families conservationist empire.

The Irwin family is Australian royalty.

(Image: Getty)

“Steve and I didn’t really agree with the process, but we decided to be one of the contractors because the alternative was that these crocodiles, if they had interaction with humans, were likely to get shot by the government,” he told news.com.au.

Bob already had a hand in wildlife conservation for more than a decade before Steve joined him. The document marked Steve’s first hands-on effort in catching crocodiles.

At the time, Steve was in his mid-20s and had already worked out a method for catching the animals. There previously was no humane method of capturing crocodiles, but Bob and Steve shaped their method to ensure “they didn’t suffer too badly.”

Catching crocs since 1989!

(Image: Getty)

“Steve was really, really good at it,” Bob said. “On lots of occasions, I’d leave him in a river system on his own to set the traps and catch some crocodiles.”

“We improved our method as we went along. We got better and better.

“Because not only were we concerned about people’s safety, which is obvious, but we were also concerned about the welfare of the crocodile.”

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The pair would relocate the smaller and medium sized crocs, but the larger animals unfit for relocation were moved to what is now known at Australia Zoo.

“We brought the big ones back where we knew they’d have been able to live out their life as long as was necessary and comfort and safety without being destroyed,” bob told news.com.au.

“Steve fell in love with them the same as I did because they’re the closest animals to the dinosaurs – they haven’t changed much.”

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