The first time I saw Steve Irwin on television, I thought he was barking mad. I actually thought that most of the other times I saw him on television, now I think about it. His modus operandi seemed to be to tell you how dangerous an animal was, then to basically annoy it until it proved how dangerous it was by snapping, striking, lunging, spitting or gouging in his direction - at which point he'd leap back, declaring, "Crikey!"
My favourite Steve Irwin moment came when he was annoying a Komodo Dragon, all the while commenting (and you have to recite this to yourself in a broad Aussie accent in tones of breathless amazed enthusiasm) "If he grabs me by the thigh, I could bleed out and die!" I loved that moment.
And I came to love watching Steve Irwin. His boundless love and appreciation for wildlife were infectious and his documentaries were never less than entertaining to watch. Since his death, I've learned that he put a lot of his own money into conservation projects and that he had a particular passion for the northern hairy-nosed wombat, whose numbers were down to around 100 in 2000.
I know there are differing opinions about him, but I liked him a lot and I'm sad he's gone. Certainly the wildlife of Australia has lost one of its most enthusiastic friends.