Thursday, September 11, 2008

Steve and Me - Book Review

Steve and Me
by Terri Irwin
Published 2007
By Simon Spotlight Entertainment

Interview Part 1
Interview Part 2
Australia Zoo

In 1991 Terri Raines was 27 years old and a wildlife conservationist in Oregon, USA. That year she went to Australia on vacation. One of the zoos she visted was the Australia Zoo just outside of Brisbane. There she fell in love with the crocodiles and with the tall blond man who handled them. His name was Steve, and he was 29.

Because they had so much in common, they fell in love and Steve proposed within 4 months. They were married in 1992.

Terri spent part of the next year back in Oregon separated from Steve due to Australian immigration rules. Under Australian law, the Australian citizen has to apply for their foreign spouse while the spouse is still living outside of Australia. Most countries had and still have this rule - including Canada and USA. Fortunately the legalities were dealt with fairly quickly, and soon Terri was back home. Already home for Terri was Australia, not Oregon.

Over the next six years Terri and Steve built up Australia Zoo and made it bigger and better. Then in 1997 Terri finally became pregnant and their daughter Bindi was born in July 1998. Steve's mother died in a car crash in 2000 and Steve was devastated. They had been very close. Terri and Bindi were in Oregon at the time, and they had to change their plane tickets and rush back to Queensland. Steve's son Robert (Bob) was born in December 2003.

Terri loved going out into the desert with Steve, hunting crocodiles and saving other wildlife such as wallabies and kangaroos. They had a camera film team and began filming their trips. These documentaries became the basis for the TV series Crocodile Hunter.

Bindi and Bob were also introduced to the wildlife at an early age. In fact when Bob was barely a month old (January 2004 - in the middle of summer) Steve took his baby son with him into the pens while he was feeding the crocodiles. Someone in the crowd complained to the authorities and there was an almighty uproar about how dangerous that had been. Steve was compared to the singer Michael Jackson who had dangled his son over a hotel balcony in Belin the previous year and also received a lot of flack for doing that. Steve had to promise that he would never do it again. In fact the Queensland government changed their animal laws to be amended so that now it stated that no children or untrained adults were allowed into any wild animal pens at any zoo.

I enjoyed this book very much for the insight it gave into Steve's personality and nature. While the animals were interesting, I much preferred the people stories.

If you really want to know what Steve was like and how he lived, then you have to read this book.

As we all know, Steve died just on 2 years ago - September 4th, 2006.

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