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The Crocodile Hunter
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The Crocodile Hunter

The Crocodile Hunter is a wildlife documentary television series hosted by Australian zookeeper Steve Irwin in the early 2000s that became wildly popular with American audiences, making millions for Irwin, his management, and the screening cable television network Animal Planet.

The show involves Irwin, a sun-bronzed Queenslander whose accent and vocabulary are reminiscent of the fictional Crocodile Dundee, going to various exotic locations, locating various pieces of dangerous local wildlife, such as the crocodiles of the title, wrestling them to the ground, and showing them to the camera before (usually) releasing them, apparently unharmed. His antics are often narrated, breathlessly, by his Oregonian wife, Terri Irwin.

A sign of the show's notoriety is that it has been parodied on South Park.

Whilst popular in the United States, particularly with children, Irwin and the show are the subject of derision in Australia. It is widely believed that Irwin's accent, catchphrases, and screen persona are a calculated fiction designed to appeal to American stereotypes about Australians (until recently, the show was relatively unknown in Australia). It is also generally believed that his supposedly dangerous stunts are in fact not nearly as dangerous as the melodramatic narration suggests - and, if they were, they would be foolhardy. From a moral standpoint, he is often criticized for his educational method, which seems to largely involve harassing wild animals going about their business for the purposes of public entertainment.

Irwin claims that his on-screen persona is genuine. He also argues that his show serves to reach a far wider audience than less sensationalized wildlife programming can, so that he can educate more people about the importance of nature.

Responding to the success of this show, Animal Planet created a spin-off series called "Croc Files," which seems to be aimed at children and which stars both Steve Irwin and his wife Terri.

See also

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