As I assume many people know, Steve Irwin (aka the Crocodile Hunter) died today. He has been lauded as an environmentalist, which he clearly was. However, he should also be praised as one of the more effective science educators of the last 20 years.
In this day and age, most of the TV shows are either 24 hour news, or some bizarre new reality show, or some crime drama. But Irwin managed to be successful with what could be called a animal-encounters reality show. Except that unlike some other such shows (e.g., “When Animals Attack“) his shows tended to be rich in moral lessons and education for the public about biology, life and animal behavior. We desperately need such little openings into the general public for education about science. Whether you liked his shows or not, whether you agreed with his methods for apporaching and protecting mean looking animals, I think everyone should say thanks today for Irwin’s dedication to educating the public about life on this planet.