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300 million viewers watch 'Croc Hunter' Steve Irwin's memorial service

UPI News Service, 09/20/2006 

A memorial service for Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin at the Australia Zoo's "Crocoseum" drew a crowd of about 5,000 fans as millions saw it worldwide.

An estimated 300 million people tuned into Wednesday's star-studded service on their televisions, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Irwin's wife, Terri, sat in the stands with the couple's two-year-old son, Bob, but did not address the crowd in Beerwah. She left that to her eight-year-old daughter, Bindi, who had the audience cheering when she spoke about her late father in a way that only a child can.

"My daddy was my hero -- he was always there for me when I needed him," she said. "We filmed together, caught crocodiles together, loved being in the bush together. I don't want daddy's passion ever to end. I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did."

Tributes to Irwin, killed by a stringray while diving 16 days ago, came from movie, music and television stars. Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Kevin Costner and Larry King offered video tributes.

Prime Minister John Howard praised Irwin's "quality of being genuine, being authentic" and his "great zest for life."

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Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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