He said once that if he were ever killed by a crocodile, he'd hate it if people blamed the animal, when it would really have been his own fault for making a mistake. The cynic would say that getting that close to wild animals was probably a mistake in general. If you watched Irwin closely, though, you could tell that he really was a keen student of the way animals, particularly crocodiles, reacted, and that's probably what kept him alive so long. It wasn't a crocodile that got him, or a poisonous snake, with which he'd had some amazingly close calls over the years; a stingray speared him in the chest while he was filming an underwater documentary, and that was that. He was dead by the time he left the water.
Irwin's passing brings to mind Timothy Treadwell, who was eaten by one of the bears he filmed in Alaska, but I think there were more differences between the men than the circumstances of their deaths would lead one to believe. Treadwell treated animals, particularly bears, like people in animal suits; he loved them desperately because he'd turned to them to salve his pain. Irwin felt deeply for animals, but remembered that they were different from him in ways that couldn't be bridged, and if he had any psychic pain, he never showed it. What he had was enthusiasm, in truckloads; he was an Australian redneck who'd grown up living in, working in, and loving the wild, and he used his money to buy chunks of land in order to keep them natural. The man lived what he loved, and it's too bad that he made his mistake so soon.
I liked Steve Irwin, and I'll miss him. The man was insane, fearless, a hell of a lot smarter than he looked, and utterly without pretense. At first, I thought his exuberant persona was a public act; then I saw some candid footage of him from well before he became even slightly well-known, and realized, no, *he's really like that.* And I was glad. In an age where every media celebrity is ruthlessly calculating about their appearance, it's nice to know that some people are still authentic, and don't get changed much by fame. Rest in peace, mate.