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Conservationist Steve Irwin, died today after being fatally pierced through the heart by a stingray barb.

“Today the world has lost a great wildlife icon, a passionate conservationist and one of the proudest Dad’s on the planet. He died doing what he loved best, he left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind, he would’ve said ‘crocs rule’,” said John Stainton, a close friend and producer of Steve Irwin’s Film Company, Best Picture.

“He was one of my best, closest friends, we’ve been together for 20 years, we’ve been shooting documentaries for fifteen years, I’ve never known a more professional man in my life and a more passionate person on wildlife and conservation issues,” Stainton said.

Discovery Communications founder and chairman John Hendricks commented, “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.”

Irwin’s show, “Crocodile Hunter” aired on the company’s Animal Planet network, and the company is now looking at creating the Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter Fund to support wildlife protection, education and conservation, as well as aid Irwin’s Australia Zoo and provide educational support for his children.

Irwin founded the Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation, which later became Wildlife Warriors Worldwide. He is survived by his wife, Terri and his two children, Bindi (8) and Bob (2 1/2).

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