Jack Hanna
December 22, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

Jack Hanna remembers Steve Irwin

FEB. 22, 1962-SEPT. 4, 2006

Whether you agree or disagree with the way he taught conservation, Steve was the greatest wildlife communicator of my lifetime. He was exciting — he could be talking about a snake or a stick, and dang if you wouldn’t stop and listen. He’d say, ”My God, look at that rock,” and he’d make it sound interesting. He also brought us an awareness of animals that no one really cared about, like alligators and crocodiles. I mean, people knew what they were, but he added this whole new dimension to these animals that have been around since the dinosaurs. Steve was a brand, no doubt about it. But I admired him for the amount of money he donated to conservation causes. It was amazing, the public outpouring of affection from all over the world. You always remember the person who was the first to do something, and there will only ever be one Steve Irwin. (Irwin died after being stabbed by a stingray near the Great Barrier Reef.)

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