Hmmmm. I can see both sides here, but ultimately, I'm going to side with Mr. Irwin, for a few reasons.
Taking any child under the age of 6 into an enclosure with any large animal is a risky proposition no matter how you cut it, but I can't think of a person it'd be safer with, than the Croc Hunter.
No zookeeper, no animal trainer, no vet of any kind would at any time put an infant in a compromisable position like this.
First question: Are you a zookeeper, animal (specifically croc) trainer, or vet?
Because being the child of a farmboy turned vet, I could probably show you some pictures that make this look tame. Ever consider the damage a 1500 pound heifer could do to a 2 year old toddler following after daddy, petting grazing cows as he goes? Without anything resembling malice? Let alone the cues an experienced person would have if the animal got cranky?
Personally, I'd feel safer in a croc cage with Steve Irwin than I would in a cage with a loose bull and my dad.
Let's consider some important facts here. First, the eating habits of Crocs. Large reptiles don't eat that often - so chances are good they had fed Murray well before this event. Secondly, just in case he was still a little peckish, they brought in some Chicken with him, to give the Croc.
You can bet that if Murray had made the slightest agressive move, the chicken would have been tossed, and father and child would have been out of that enclosure faster than you'd think possible.
Then, let's think about maybe why Mr. Irwin would even concieve of such a "publicity stunt."
My guess is that he wanted to show people that crocodiles aren't horrible, vicious animals that will kill anything within reach. Ever watched the show? That has *always* been a major part of his message.
By bringing his son into the enclosure with Murray, he accomplishes two things:
First, he shows that he doesn't fear the crocodile will kill his child. He's showing a lot of love and empathy for an often misunderstood animal. He feels comfortable enough with his own flesh and blood in there.
Second, he shows the importance of teaching children to LOVE animals. ALL animals, not just the cute and fuzzy kind. And, since he has the resources to do it, he teaches his children through one-on-one interaction with animals. Perhaps at an earlier age than he can understand, but that baby still saw a croc up close and left perfectly safe and serene.
Child endangerment would be *me* doing that. (Unless, as I previously stated, you'd like to bring retroactive charges to my dad and several of my uncles)
The man's a professional, and despite how he plays himself off as the crazy backwater yokel, he's no idiot. I somehow doubt he'd do anything he considered too dangerous.
Edited by Jid, 03 January 2004 - 12:06 AM.