Statement from Billy Campbell, President, Discovery Networks, U.S. Discovery Communications, Inc.
Our entire company is deeply saddened by the tragic and sudden loss of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. Steve was beloved by millions of fans and animal lovers around the world and was one of our planet's most passionate conservationists. He has graced our air since October 1996 and was essential in building Animal Planet into a global brand.
Steve was killed during a filming expedition on the Great Barrier Reef. While we are still collecting specific details, it was a rare accident in which Steve swam over a stingray and was stung by its barb in his chest. A doctor on board Croc One, Steve's research vessel, was unable to resuscitate Steve and by the time he was reached by the rescue helicopter he had passed away.
DCI Founder and Chairman, John Hendricks said, "Steve was a larger than life force. He brought joy and learning about the natural world to millions and millions of people across the globe. He was a true friend to all of us at Discovery Communications. We extend our thoughts and prayers to Terri, Bindi and Bob Irwin as well as to the incredible staff and many friends Steve leaves behind."
DCI CEO and President, Judith McHale said, "I don't think we will ever get over the loss of Steve Irwin, a human being of enormous heart, irrepressible enthusiasm and dedication to everything he touched."
Steve's loss has been felt around the world, evident by the hundreds of heartfelt condolences that have already flooded into Steve's fan site on AnimalPlanet.com.
To honor Steve and the enormous contribution he made to the world and to our company, DCI will rename the garden space in front of Discovery's world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, the "Steve Irwin Memorial Sensory Garden."
DCI is looking at the creation of the Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter Fund, which we'll affectionately call "The Crikey Fund" to honor Steve's passion and exuberance for conservation and the animal kingdom. This fund will allow people from across the globe to make contributions in Steve's honor to support wildlife protection, education and conservation. The fund in addition to contributions by DCI will also aid Steve's Australia Zoo in Breewah, Australia as well as educational support for Bindi and Bob Irwin.