Steve Irwin was and always will be a pop cultural icon that captured the amazement and heart of audiences all over the world. His hit TV program series, The Crocodile Hunter, along with other specials he filmed, served as an avenue to propel his message to the world which was to educate, inform and push the idea of animal conservationism to millions watching him weekly.
Through his filming of the show, the Croc Hunter Irwin, became an immediate sensation because of his desire and willingness to get as close to the wildlife action as anyone had ever done before. He instantly became a cultural icon with his distinct Australian accent, excited shouting, infamous use of the word “crikey”, and his penchant for challenging dangerous incidents head-on, allowing viewers to feel more at home and in the trenches with the many animals he visited and filmed.
It’s safe to say that hardly anyone is as brave as Steve Irwin was, but to prove it, here are twenty-five photos showing him being braver than we could ever dream of being.
25 The Nile Croc
In one of the more questionable episodes of The Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin paid a visit to Africa and filmed along the banks of the incredible Nile River, home to most of the world’s crocodiles. With such a high population of crocs throughout its thousands of miles of waters, Irwin was bound to come across something incredible.
He stumbled across a Nile Croc that was simply massive beyond belief, stretching to a length close to twenty feet and weighing nearly a ton.
Anyone willing to come within a hundred feet of this thing is probably crazy. Or they’re probably named Steve Irwin.
24 Bonding with Our Distant Cousins
Chimps and gorillas are some of the most well-researched animal species in the world as they have given us so much insight into primates and even human abilities. With that said, although they are similar to us in many regards, when it comes to physical capabilities, they are simply light years ahead of us.
If ever triggered, these specimens could really put our lives in danger as their strength makes ours look like child’s play.
Irvin opts to get in their habitat and monkey around with them in playful banter.
23 Wrangling a Croc
Steve was smart enough to know when it was time to back off from a croc and when it was a good opportunity to interact with them for some great footage for his TV audiences.
In this instance, he went all out while filming, entering the banks of a river to wrangle a crocodile, which certainly put up a fight.
Irwin was able to tag the croc for health purposes, but his eagerness and willingness to jump into croc infested waters and wrestle one bigger than him in their natural habitat is a reminder of his bravery.
22 Irwin Takes a Risk with the Most Dangerous Around
According to National Geographic, “a bite from this fearsome serpent was 100 percent fatal, usually within 20 minutes”. In other words, messing with a black mamba is asking for some serious trouble. But Steve Irwin was a risk taker and in tune with keeping audiences engaged.
He picked up a black mamba for a great shot, while also accounting for the snake’s mouth, ensuring his own safety while handling the deadly serpent.
21 Irwin Faces Controversy
In one of the most controversial moments in Steve Irwin’s career, this interaction with a giant crocodile spurred on a series of criticisms and backlash. If you’ll notice, as he feeds the croc raw meat, Irwin is holding his infant child in his left arm.
Thankfully both were completely unharmed, but the backlash he received putting his child in harm’s way was a lesson learned for Irwin who vowed to be as careful as possible with his children, while also instilling a sense of adventure in them.
20 Aussie and Dingo Are a Perfect Match
There’s a fairly common misconception that dingoes are simply a wild version of a domestic dog. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The dingo is actually pretty similar to the wolf in the sense that they are powerful, fast and lethal in their hunting precision.
Found in Irwin’s homeland country of Australia, he basically had no qualms with leaning over and giving them kisses on their snout without a worry in the world.
19 Brave, But Not Fast Enough
Irwin was brave enough to spend time with the fastest land animal in the world. Although they were in captivity, the threat they pose is still palpable as cheetahs are always capable of hunting down prey with lethal precision and indescribable speed.
Irwin was brave enough to get in the enclosure and run around with the mother and her cubs, something that would make most folks far too hesitant considering the propensity for cheetahs to get protective over offspring.
18 Feeding a Tiger
It’s one thing to step into a captivity enclosure with a tiger, which is already out of this world scary. But it’s an entirely different thing to feed one, no matter how young it may be.
In this stunning photo, Irwin bottle fed milk to a tiger while remaining in her home. Just taking a quick glance at her paws is enough to send most anyone fleeing for cover. The size of her paws and claws which are visible are evidence of a cat that can take life away with ease that is sometimes hard to fathom. Irwin of course, opted to have lunch with her.
17 Definitely Not an Arachnophobic
According to verywellmind.com, arachnophobia is one of the most common fears in the world, afflicting “as many as one in three women and one in four men”, which can even trigger a fear or response and “in some cases, these symptoms can escalate into a full-blown panic attack”.
Well, it’s pretty evident that Steve definitely did not suffer from arachnophobia as he was known to search and pick up giant spiders in wild forests, allowing them to crawl all over him. Definitely not for the faint of heart.
16 Elephant Encounter
Steve Irwin has pretty much gotten up close and personal with just about every single animal there is and that includes the biggest one in the world.
Elephants might look cuddly and warm, but when you’re standing a few feet away from them, they are an incredible specimen that can be enormously intimidating.
Their sheer size at up to ten thousand pounds and as tall as a basketball ring, is enough to scare most people away.
The off chance that an elephant runs rampant is a thought we'd rather not have, but not enough to deter Irwin from posing happily with his back to them.
15 Cameraman Adventures
The one specimen that made Steve Irwin the sensation he was has made it onto our list for the first time. Also known as the Crocodile Hunter to many throughout the world who regularly tuned in to his TV show, Steve Irwin was at one with crocodiles, both in the wild and in captivity.
He can be seen here filming one as close as anyone is brave enough to get, even eliciting a violent reaction from a croc who was ready to show Steve the importance of boundaries.
It was probably best for Irwin to allow the cameramen to handle the footage work while he studied the crocodiles.
14 Diamondback Rattlesnake Encounter
One of the most lethal snakes in the Western Hemisphere, the Diamondback Rattlesnake is as vicious as the name sounds. Found in most of the southern and western parts of the United States, Steve Irwin paid a visit to them while filming a series of episodes for his show, The Crocodile Hunter Diaries, focusing on wildlife in Florida and Texas.
Amazingly, he got within feet of this dangerous snake which has been known to strike with very little provocation.
Good thing he left this particular encounter unfazed as rattlesnake bites can be fatal due to their “potent hemotoxin that kills red blood cells”, according to National Geographic.
13 Wombat Friend
Wombats are actually a fairly docile species and don’t often strike fear in the hearts of those who get a chance to observe them in the wild. Although it’s well known they are calm animals, their size can actually be fairly intimidating when faced one on one in real life.
These giant marsupials can get to half the size of a grown man while weighing up to 77 pounds. That’s a really big animal that we simply aren’t used to seeing, nor are we brave enough to hold tightly the way Irvin does below.
12 At Sea with Sea Lions
Sea lions aren’t necessarily the most intimidating creatures in the sea, but when you are up close to them without any barriers keeping them separated, their size and often aggressive nature can be enough to make anyone think twice about coming too close to them.
Of course, it’s going to take a lot more to keep Irwin from treading in the water and laying down next to one which hesitantly studied him and finally allowed him to get near for some fun close up shots.
11 Cool and Collected
You couldn’t pay most people to come within a few feet of a giant lizard that has the potential to inflict some serious damage. Especially not one that is about as long as half the length of a grown man and claws as big as a small child’s hands.
Steve Irwin would pick these guys up regularly and even kiss them. Sure, he rarely ever felt the wrath of any lizard he decided to pose with calmly, but the potential for any one of them to snap back was always there.
10 The Deadly Scorpion
It’s not advisable to get near a scorpion. It’s especially not a good idea to pick them up and allow them to crawl all over your hands. Unless you are an expert when it comes to these creatures, it simply isn’t wise to handle them as the risk of a scorpion attacking is high considering they are highly defensive and quick to act.
Although stings rarely are fatal, according to mayoclinic.org, they are “sometimes severe enough to cause a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis” which can get serious very quickly.
Steve Irwin’s hands can be seen here allowing a scorpion to move about freely without a care.
9 Irwin Gets Personal with the King of all Lizards
The Komodo Dragon is probably one of the most intimidating animals in existence. It’s literally a giant lizard that can get up to nearly 10 feet long from the tip of the tail to the nose. If that’s not absolutely intimidating, then there isn’t much else that will elicit a reaction.
Not only are these giant lizards imposing because of their size, but because of their incredible physical abilities, making this one of the most menacing creatures alive.
Irwin, per usual, remains undeterred, getting as close to one as is reasonably logical.
8 Snake Cuddles
The size of this snake he encountered while filming was as long as him when stretched out, to go along with some serious weight.
Just the mere appearance of this snake is enough to send almost anyone running.
The pattern only added to the scare factor. This is definitely one of those Irwin instances few people are willing to replicate. Weirdly enough for us, he seems to be enjoying it.
7 Giant Tortoise Photo Op
Although most people see tortoises as gentle giants, it should be known that they are quite dangerous. It is certainly true that they are docile reptiles for the most part, but it’s also true that they can take off a hand with their powerful mouths.
It’s wise to stay behind their shells where they are slow to reach and away from their giant mouths, but of course, Irwin is always ready to challenge the status quo and pose face to face with this giant tortoise.
6 He May as Well Have Been a Pro Wrestler
In just about every single episode of his hit TV series, The Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin can be seen wrestling crocodiles. It was simply his calling card and although it was a repeated formula, audiences were always fascinated by it, time and time again.
It might have even been an act that we started to take for granted, forgetting how intimidating such an encounter actually is. He did so with regularity and with 100% success, always able to get a hold of the powerful reptilian beasts and lend them a helping hand.