Popular naturalist Steve Irwin, known worldwide as “Crocodile Hunter,” would not have wanted a state funeral, his father Bob Irwin said. “He was an ordinary bloke who would not want to be remembered that way,” the father of the now-deceased TV star said Wednesday, the AP reports.
In the first comments by Irwin's family since the hugely popular naturalist died Monday, Bob Irwin thanked his son's many fans for their messages of support, and said his son had died doing what he loved.
"There were many things that could have gone wrong," Bob Irwin said in a news conference that was broadcast live across Australia. "Steve knew the risks (of what) he was doing, and he wouldn't have wanted it any other way."
The 44-year-old TV star was being filmed for a new TV program as he snorkeled with a stingray on the Great Barrier Reef, when it lashed out with its tail, plunging a poisonous barb into Irwin's chest. He died minutes later.
His death plunged Australia - and millions of fans worldwide - into mourning. Thousands of people have journeyed to Irwin's wildlife park, Australia Zoo, in Queensland state, creating an ad hoc shrine of native flowers and handwritten condolences.
Prime Minister John Howard called Irwin a great Australian ambassador and offered a state funeral if it was what the family wished.
The decision on a state funeral will be made by Terri, Irwin's wife, his father said. But the elder Irwin insisted his son would not have wanted such a fuss.
If it were up to Steve Irwin, "the state funeral would be refused. Because he is an ordinary guy, he's just an ordinary bloke, and he wants to be remembered as an ordinary bloke," Bob Irwin said.
Bob Irwin, 66, gave up a plumbing business and moved his family from the southern city of Melbourne to Beerwah, on the fringe of the Outback, in 1970 to open a reptile park that inspired his son's passion for wildlife.
The two Irwins regularly went on snake capturing and camping expeditions together. Steve Irwin said once that his father taught him all he knew about reptiles and the Australian bush.
"Over the years Steve and I had a lot of adventures together," said Bob Irwin, sitting before a throng of news cameras, journalists and well wishers at the gate of Australia Zoo.
"We weren't like father and son, we never were. We were mates. I will remember Steve as my best mate ever," he said.