crocodile hunter, nature

Images from the Australia Zoo and Robert Irwin.

Steve Irwin was just one of those too-good-for-this-world celebrities. For me, he’s right up there with David Bowie, Dolly Parton and Betty White. Though his methods were unconventional, Irwin found his own wild way of bringing the natural world to the masses, with unbridled passion and enthusiasm.

As he wrestled with dangerous beasts, we got up close and personal with some of Mother Earth’s most misunderstood, learning that there’s so much more to love than fear. His moniker might have been The Crocodile Hunter, but he was definitely more of a wildlife warrior.

Steve’s son Robert Irwin recently posted a video to his Instagram, and man, is this kid not only the spitting image of his father, he also honors Steve’s legacy of providing wildlife education and promoting conservation … all while nearly being eaten by a giant reptile. Proving that boldness never really goes out of style.


In a recent teaser video for the latest season finale of Animal Planet’s “Crikey! It’s the Irwins” series, Robert Irwin goes in, up close and personal, for his first feeding with Casper, a massive leucistic (completely pale) saltwater crocodile.

Like most crocs, Casper is wild, ferocious and territorial. “Since dad first got Casper … he’s had that instinct,” Robert tells us.

Robert will need to see if Casper is happy in his new enclosure by seeing if he strikes.

Meat in hand, Robert stomps on the ground, sending vibrations over to Casper, who definitely gets the message. As he lunges out of the water, Robert jokes, “Oh yeah, he’s keen” before we get an aerial view of a high-speed crocodile chase and the video abruptly ends. It is a teaser, after all.

This might seem like a piece of theater, but there’s more to it than that. As Robert points out, this activity is actually for the crocodile’s happiness and well-being.

Robert’s caption reads, “We prioritise natural behaviour with our crocs. By getting in their enclosures with them, and letting them put on those huge strikes from the water’s edge, they get to use all of their predatory instincts and they just love it!”

Don’t just take Rob’s word for it. As Basic Biology states, inherently stealthy crocodiles “ambush their prey as they drink from the water’s edge.”

In addition to facilitating this hunting method, many zoos and conservation institutes meticulously design their crocodile enclosures to match the same environments found in nature; everything from sandy pool bottoms to mimic the bottom of a lake to natural visual barriers like fallen trees.

The Australia Zoo, owned by the Irwins, is itself one of the world’s leading research centers dedicated to studying crocodile behavior. According to the zoo’s website, the conservation organization regards Steve's capture and study techniques as the “world’s best to this day.”

I mean, just looking at some of his greatest catches, the man did have a knack for it.

Robert seems to be following in those footsteps. I’m so here for it.

To quote Steve, “the message is simple: love and conserve our wildlife.” With the same genuine heart, fearless love and unbeatable positivity, Robert’s work (and really, the work of the entire Irwin family) keeps that message alive.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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