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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Encore Presentation: Steve Irwin Remembered
Aired September 10, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, the world still in shock over yesterday's tragic death of crocodile hunter Steve Irwin. What happened? We'll ask his long-time friend and manager who was there and the colleague who helped in the desperate effort to revive the crocodile hunter.
Plus, wildlife stars Jack Hanna and Jeff Corwin on Steve Irwin's remarkable life and tragic death.
And, a scuba diver who was rescued by the croc hunter three years ago; they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Good evening.
Two quick programming notes before we begin. Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE for the first time anywhere on TV, the baby pictures we've all been waiting for, all 22 pages of Vanity Fair's photos of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' daughter Suri. You may have seen one or two of them already but we'll have them all.
And Thursday night, tennis great Andre Agassi, his first interview since his tearful goodbye to tennis on Sunday.
We begin tonight with John Stainton. He's in Brisbon, Australia. John Stainton is Steve Irwin's -- was Steve Irwin's producer, manager and best friend, was with him when he died. Can you tell us what was happening at that moment, John, where you were, what occurred?
JOHN STAINTON, IRWIN'S LONGTIME FRIEND: We were out on a ship on Steve's research vessel called Croc 1, on the Great Barrier Reef just off Port Douglas. We had been shooting a documentary for Animal Planet in the states called Ocean's Deadliest ironically. And we had aboard with us Philippe Cousteau who was the grandson of the famous Jacques Cousteau and Philippe Cousteau to help. He was co-hosting that program.
And Steve, we had about two or three days of cloudy bad weather, gale, you know, 15 to 20 knot winds and scattered showers and we had been caged up for a couple days, which Steve is not good with being confined to a boat for any length of time or any particular space of land.
And, when the sun came out on yesterday morning, he said to me, "Look, I might just go out and pick up a couple of segments for Bindi new kid show, which we're doing. His daughter Bindi is doing a new show for Discovery Kids next year. And wherever we get the opportunity we pick up quick little stories with Steve for her.
And he said, "I'll just take the Rubber Ducky and go out and see if we can get some corral and fish and rays and stuff like that just to do a soft segment for kids. And that was -- I just saw him go off. He had the crew, the boat crew in with him and a cameraman in there. They went off.
Philippe and I were still on the boat. And the next thing we heard this call come in out of the ship's radio that there had been an emergency and get a Medivac (ph), Medivac, Medivac.
It was a blur as to what was happening. I didn't know who was hurt. I obviously did not think it would be Steve. I had -- I thought he was invincible, you know, that he was never going to be hurt badly ever and it was.
When we got to the back of the boat I saw it was Steve lying in the -- in the Rubber Ducky and I can't tell you what happened then. It's a blur from then. I know that we spent the next 15 minutes or more on CPR trying to keep him alive.
There was a voice there from a researcher who was onboard saying, "Keep pumping boys. Keep pumping. We know if you can do it, you can keep going, we'll keep him alive. We'll get him help."
In the meantime, we'd run our emergency number here to get the Medivac helicopter in. Unfortunately, the only spot that they could land was an island which was probably 20, 30 minutes steaming away from where we were on the reef, so we had to make a high-tailed dash in our boat to get to this island to meet the helicopter. So, it was a pretty desperate time and a horrible event to do and live through.
KING: No sign of consciousness at all, John?
STAINTON: Larry, in my heart I think he was -- I think he was dead when he was in the Rubber Ducky. I'm sorry.
KING: That's all right.
STAINTON: I don't think he was alive. I'm sorry.
KING: Did he do much underwater filming?
STAINTON: He was as good underwater as he was on top of the land. You know, he loved the water. He was a very accomplished diver. He was -- he was comfortable anywhere there was wildlife. He was fine. He's been diving for, I don't know, ten, 15 years with sharks, with everything that would kill you in the water but I never thought he'd take a hit from a stingray.
KING: Had he been around stingrays a lot?
STAINTON: A lot, a lot. I mean he was very used to them. And, as you know, in a lot of parts of the world tourists go in the water and feed them and hand feed them and let them crawl all over them. I mean it's -- it's something that we've seen and been a witness to all over the place.
You just wouldn't think that -- and it was only the day before with Jamie (ph), the doctor that was onboard who's an expert from the university, James (INAUDIBLE), North Queensland, we talked about stingrays and the effect of the barb.
It was so ironic that we would actually have this conversation the day before that was "Were they a deadly threat? And, no, they weren't." And I related story where a friend of mine had got a barb through his leg and had to be Medivac'd out. It was ironic. It was ironic.
KING: Steve appeared quite a few times on this show. We're going to show a clip now of him on this program in the year 2001. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Why do you do this?
STEVE IRWIN, CROCODILE HUNTER: Well...
KING: I mean but you must have fear.
IRWIN: Yes, yes, jammed back in the back of my brain. I think everyone's got a fear mechanism but I try and keep it, you know, suppressed back there somewhere.
KING: So you've never been bit where you say, "I'm not going to do this anymore?"
IRWIN: No. No, I haven't. You know, Larry, these aren't -- it's not like these scars are trophies mate. It's like they're interesting and it helps me to prompt, talk about conservation. That's what it does. You know, when you get -- when you take a hit and you get a scar, I've made a mistake. I've made a mistake. It's never the animal's fault.
KING: And you don't blame the animal?
KING: You don't get mad at the animal?
IRWIN: Never, no, not at all, if you get close enough to get bitten, if that tarantula had sunk its fangs in, it was my fault. I knew it had fangs. I was mucking with it. You take the hit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: John, if you're having a tough time we'll take a break, John. Are you OK or should we take a break?
STAINTON: Yes, I'm OK. Just listening to his voice was -- it's hard. Larry, it's hard, you know.
KING: Yes, I could imagine.
STAINTON: You know it's hard.
KING: How do you explain him?
STAINTON: A phenomena. He was -- I loved him dearly and we had a partnership that was made in heaven. I mean he never interfered in my side of the business, which was making the television shows. I never interfered in his side of the business, which was jumping on crocodiles and I didn't want to do that anyway.
So, he never questioned anything about doing -- you got to do this interview and that interview and that's why I feel guilty I have to do these interviews because it's not my job to be in front of a camera but he did it for me for 15 years and never questioned it. I don't know I feel like I...
KING: How is Terri doing?
STAINTON: A lot worse than me.
STAINTON: We brought him home last night because he's been (INAUDIBLE) and I traveled with him on the plane for six hours just him and I. Five hours I couldn't stop crying. It was like -- it was devastating.
KING: When's the funeral?
STAINTON: I mean when we got...
KING: I'm sorry, go ahead.
STAINTON: We haven't -- we haven't worked out that yet. It's not -- we can't even get to it. But, just I think the fact that we finally got him home and then the family saw the casket last night it was like -- it was like a full stop, you know. Until you actually see that you can't imagine and you think it's a dream and it's not happening but it is and it has and it's done.
KING: We're going to take a break and we'll be right back.
By the way, John will be with us throughout the program.
When we come back, you won't find a greater name in the history of underwater exploration than the name Cousteau. Up next, the grandson of a great ocean explorer who was on the boat as Steve Irwin took what would be his fatal plunge. Philippe Cousteau joins us next.
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IRWIN: The best team in the world and they are not only the team, they are my family and my friends. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This morning we've all been remembering experiences with him, funny things that have happened to us and his character and some of the amazing things he's done for his staff.
IRWIN: Here he comes the other one, woo-hoo!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IRWIN: No, I don't have a morbid fear of death or dying. I really don't, you know. I had a tragedy. It breaks my heart to talk about it but, you know, there's no use hiding. My mum was killed last year in a tragic road accident. I was born on her birthday.
KING: Oh, she didn't die of natural causes?
IRWIN: No, mate, she didn't and -- and she was torn from our family. I was born on her birthday. We had an umbilical cord connected to each other our whole lives. We were just -- we were so close, so very close. So, in my death I'll get back to her, you know. I sincerely believe that. The only thing that I am a little concerned about is that Bindi...
KING: Your daughter.
IRWIN: Yes, she won't have a daddy and that kind of worries me a little.
KING: Take care of yourself.
IRWIN: Yes, I'll try hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It's going to be tough to take. John Stainton remains with us. And, by the way, Steve Irwin's conservation organization was known as the Wildlife Warriors. If you'd like to make a donation to honor Steve's memory, the Web site address is wildlifewarriors.org.au.
Joining us now from Cairns, Australia is Philippe Cousteau. He is the president of the Earth Echo International, was to co-host Ocean's Deadliest with Steve Irwin on the Discovery Channel, the grandson of Jacques Cousteau, who by the way I interviewed sometime ago out on his boat.
Philippe, what were you doing there? Where were you and how did this all come together for you?
PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, HELPED TRY TO REVIVE STEVE IRWIN: Well, Steve was -- Steve was in the water actually when all of this happened obviously and I was on the boat. I was reading a book when we got the call over the radio. It had been -- we had been about ten days or so into the shoot and things were going so well and I think that's, you know, the irony of the whole story was that stingrays weren't even part of, you know, the show. And, so I was actually just relaxing and getting ready for our dive that afternoon when everything happened, Larry.
KING: How did you and Steve get together on this?
COUSTEAU: Well, I had been working with Animal Planet now for a few months on various different projects, ocean-related projects. And, I got a call about a couple months ago from a producer at Animal Plant, at Discovery, asking me if I would consider working with Steve on a project called Ocean's Deadliest.
And, I jumped at the opportunity especially once I learned the strong conservation message that would be part of the film and just really looked forward to working with Steve. And, over the last few months we've just been scheduling and putting it together and it all came together beautifully. And, I've been here for a couple weeks now and it was -- it was up until that tragedy quite a wonderful experience.
KING: Tragedy has been around you. Your father died in a seaplane accident. How are you dealing with this?
COUSTEAU: You know that's one of the things that has haunted me a little bit since this occurred that I was there, the circumstances around Steve's death being such an accident and also my father's death was an accident and he left two children, a son and a daughter and a widow. And, the situation is so similar. That's been difficult, I have to tell you.
KING: John Stainton, we can only pray that the tape of this never gets out.
STAINTON: I would never want that tape shown. I mean it should be destroyed. At the moment, it's in police custody for evidence. There's a coroner's inquest taking place at the moment. And when that is finally released it will never see the light of day ever, ever.
KING: Philippe -- I'm sorry.
STAINTON: I actually saw it and I don't want to see it again.
KING: You did see the film?
STAINTON: I saw it and I haven't -- I don't want to see it again, no.
KING: How could you even watch it?
STAINTON: I had to watch it because I wanted to make sure what was on that tape that was going to the police and we had to watch it to sign off on it that it was the tape. It was a hard experience.
And, Larry, if I could take a minute to just thank Philippe personally, publicly for the amazing heroism that he showed and the support that he gave us on that fatal hour. He was fantastic and, Philippe, my absolute -- I'm proud of you.
COUSTEAU: Thank you, John.
KING: Philippe, what was your take on Steve?
COUSTEAU: You know, I remarked in an e-mail not long after I arrived in Australia and met Steve, we were up north catching saltwater crocodiles, and I spent the second day with Steve hanging onto a 15-footer. It was pretty, pretty amazing.
I wrote an e-mail to some of my colleagues and friends back in the states how amazed I was at how dedicated Steve was and how much he really loved being out there, being out in the wild with those animals and also how much the people around him cared for him and loved him and the high esteem in which his entire team held him and how much he loved them.
They were -- you played a clip a little earlier -- they were his family and I have never seen a closer group of people that were more dedicated to each other and he was so humble and just part of the team.
And, when we were doing some public shots at the airport, you know, I mean he's mobbed all the time and he was always gracious and kind and he was -- I was struck immediately by that and just what a remarkable individual he was.
KING: We'll come back. Philippe will remain with us, so too will John Stainton.
And when we come back, two of Steve Irwin's TV counterparts talk about the risks they live with every day.
And, as we go to break a very tender moment between Steve Irwin and his little daughter Bindi.
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IRWIN: This is just how I started watching and learning right at my dad's side. There's my girl. Oh, you've got (INAUDIBLE). Bindi is never going to forget these very special times.
BINDI IRWIN: That's my daddy all right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Did you know Jack Hanna?
KING: From the zoo?
KING: Are you as much into conservation as he is?
IRWIN: Oh, mate, conservation? Conservation that's my aim, my passion, that's where I live. That's what we're all about.
KING: Why is it important, Steve, for animals to live?
IRWIN: Mate, let me get this tarantula out of here.
KING: Yes, get him out of here.
IRWIN: Conservation is of paramount significance and that's why I was put on this earth to try and help conserve out trees, our wilderness, our oceans and our wildlife. That's why I'm here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That scene from a 2001 appearance by Steve on this program mentioning Jack Hanna.
Joining us in Big Fork, Montana is Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, host of the syndicated TV show Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures.
In Anchorage, Alaska, Jeff Corwin, animal conservationist, host of several animal shows, including Corwin's Quest on the Discovery Channel and the Jeff Corwin Experience on Animal Planet.
And we're also going to spend a moment or two with Ray Davis, president of zoological operations at the Georgia Aquarium. The Georgia Aquarium is fantastic. It's the biggest one in America and it is in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jack, what do you make of all this? Did you know Steve Irwin personally?
JACK HANNA, DIR. EMERITUS, COLUMBUS ZOO: We did a one-hour special there, Larry, about seven years ago. And, after listening to John and Philippe, I must say after about 40 interviews in the last day and a half this is -- about the last 15 minutes has really hit home.
I'm probably the senior citizen of all these guys and when you talk about Steve and all the people that I've related to in the last 48 hours or 36 hours, the one thing about it, some people today were saying agree and disagree on how he filmed.
But the bottom line is that there was no tremendous -- he was a tremendous educator, a tremendous communicator and a tremendous conservationist. You know what Steve did. And, you know, just sitting here the last 15 minutes just the whole thing has just really hit home to me.
KING: Me too. HANNA: And just my heart goes out to them. I mean the thing -- the thing that was said tonight though that John said and that Philippe said is the fact that the people, you always notice -- when we were there you always know when his staff and there's people there.
He treated everyone, I don't care if it's the person that took out the garbage and the guy that was head keeper or whoever, the producer or whatever it was, everyone was treated the same.
A lot of people in this business, you know, they do their television and they're a different person afterwards. But, Steve, when he woke up he was the same person he was until he went to bed and that's what impressed all of us so much. And his love for his family and his wildlife and his conservation message was unbelievable.
Whether again these folks today were talking about agree and disagree whatever it might be the bottom line is he'll be remembered for the enthusiasm and what he cared about.
KING: Jeff Corwin, did you have much contact with Steve?
JEFF CORWIN, HOST, ANIMAL PLANET'S "JEFF CORWIN EXPERIENCE": Well, we worked at the same network and our paths crossed on the road as we were traveling around, you know, filming various things. We often shared the same producers at the network.
And when I heard of this I was actually filming in Nome, Alaska and I just couldn't believe it. When I think of Steve Irwin I think of an immortal. And, I remember just sort of keying through my phone trying to get some sort of information.
And so, when I first found out I was devastated and then just, you know, really quite shocked at sort of the senseless irony of this loss. Here is this man who basically is a pioneer in what he did and has worked in so many arenas and to have this happen it's just a terrible waste.
KING: Have the last 20 minutes touched you as it has Jack?
CORWIN: You know, I've been trying to just sort of focus on this and not really keep the emotions back about it but what really resonated to me was to see his daughter. I have a daughter and I've taken my daughter on the road.
And, you know, Steve is known as someone who is a great worker with wildlife, an educator, a sharer of information, but what a lot of people don't know about him is his tight relationship with his family.
As I understand it, he was a marvelous husband and an incredible father and he lived his passion. His passion was his life and he brought his family in that passion. So, the idea that his experience now eclipses at is just to me just terribly tragic, terribly tragic.
KING: Let's check with Ray Davis at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. I've been to that aquarium. It's an incredible place. He's president of zoological operations. Tell us about the kind of stingray that cost Steve his life.
RAY DAVIS, GEORGIA AQUARIUM: Well, as we understand it was a bull-nose ray, which can get rather large. If we take a look at the pool in front of me we have cow-nose rays, which are a smaller variety, smaller species and there's a spine that I've got that's a sample of what would be on this size animal.
And I think of he barb here being about four times larger than that. It can be quite devastating, quite a bit of damage. Again, the thin sheath that covers it has venom and bacteria in it that can be quite painful. As we realize, it can also be lethal.
KING: Is it a defensive mechanism?
DAVIS: (INAUDIBLE) really heartfelt.
KING: Is it a defensive mechanism for the stingray?
DAVIS: Absolutely. It is all about defense for these animals. These animals feed on shrimp and mollusk and clams and crabs. And, if you look around, you can see the sandy bottom. They go and fiddle through the bottom looking for food.
So, the spine at the base of their tail is used for defense and that's what it's meant for. And, if they feel that they're threatened they'll use it by whipping the tail around and then the spine being based on that tail can slash or jab into the predator to fend it off.
KING: Has there been more interest in stingrays the last two days at the aquarium?
DAVIS: Absolutely and with our educators and narrators here at Georgia Aquarium we've been able to share more thorough information than you could ever imagine related to stingrays and the fact that we need to respect these animals.
The fact that here we're in a protected contact situation, what do you do when you go to the shore, when you're out fishing and how do you cope with catching a stingray or being near a stingray? You should not fear these animals.
You need to respect it. You need to take to heart what Steve Irwin tried to tell everyone that you needed to understand these animals. He was such a strong advocate for animals and the wild places that they were in.
KING: At aquariums do they remove the barbs?
DAVIS: What we've done at Georgia Aquarium is we treat this very much and it is very much like a fingernail and we trim it back like a fingernail. The barb is a modified scale so there are no nerves or blood.
KING: Thank you very much Ray.
We'll be right back. Just ahead, the Iowa diver whose life was saved by Steve Irwin, he's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IRWIN: He was very, very excited to be rescued but he was so sad and I feel so sorry for him and what a hero. He's the hero, mate, not me. I'm not the hero here. I'm just the bloke that, you know, helped him off the rock. He's the true hero hanging onto her in her passing from this life into the next wherever that may be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: One quick reminder about two great shows coming up this week. Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, for the first time anywhere on T.V., the baby pictures we've all been waiting for. All 22 pages of "Vanity Fair's" photos of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' daughter, Suri. We'll have them all. And on Thursday night, tennis great Andre Agassi. His first interview since his tearful good-bye to tennis on Sunday.
Before we talk with Scott Jones, who owes his life to Steve Irwin Philippe Cousteau, you go around dangerous things. Does this give you pause? Might you not go out on things again?
COUSTEAU: Absolutely not. It was a freak accident, but it doesn't stop us from doing what we have to do to bring the wonder of nature and all of these creatures to everybody. And that's what was so important about this show, and I think why Steve was so excited about it, that we were looking at these animals that people think of as, you know, dangerous and deadly monsters, and they're not. They all have an important place in the environment and in the world. And that was what his whole message was about. And I know all of us will continue to fight to bring that message to everyone.
KING: John Stainton, are you going to produce, continue to produce adventure series?
STAINTON: Yes, Larry. And I intend to finish ocean's deadliest with Philippe's help. He'll certainly take up the slack, and eventually we'll get that film made it out to the public as a tribute to Steve's final documentary on earth.
KING: Jack Hanna, do you ever think of hanging them up, retiring? it don't get any less dangerous.
HANNA: No. You know, I have a little bit different way of filming. But the point is, Larry, at my age, you know, I'm a little older than these guys, and a few more years and these guys who do such a great job, I'll just kind of turn it over to them and enjoy watching. But that's kind of what I'll do.
KING: Jeff Corwin, doesn't this give you pause?
CORWIN: Well, the truth is, Larry, this sort of work, working with animals, it comes with risk. What you want to do is take all the precautions. You dot your I's, you cross your T's. But ultimately, wild animals are wild, and that's also part of the story. And Steve illustrated that.
And what we have to remember is what Steve did was he served as a bridge that connected the human world with the animal world. And above that he was able to take that information and apply it to conservation. But animals warrant to tell their stories, and he got to live his passion, and all of us here who are doing this, we're blessed that we get to have the similar opportunities. So if I feel that it's a really bad risk, I don't take it. You sort of look at those things. But in the end wild animals are what they are.
KING: Let's go to Davenport, Iowa, check in with Scott Jones. He owes his life to Steve Irwin, who -- he saved his life in the Baja -- you live in Davenport. What were you doing in Baja?
SCOTT JONES, SCUBA DIVER: I take group trips all over the world.
KING: And what happened on that day in November 2003?
JONES: It was on our first dive of the trip, and the divemaster of the operation took us on where we shouldn't have been for the first dive, and there was rough current come up and people were getting separated, so on. Katie, which was 77-years-old, got separated from her buddy. I seen her for a few minutes, and loud noises come up, and water turned black where I couldn't see.
And so I come up and when I got to the surface I seen a wave take Katie and bash her against the wall. By the time I got to her, another wave took her and got her again. And I tried reviving her with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for a couple of hours and tried to -- every time I did something I got bashed up against the walls too for several hours, and then I was out there for a long time.
KING: And what did Steve Irwin do?
JONES: Well, about 27 hours later I -- which was the next day, Steve Irwin located me and then came over and got me off the rock and saved my life.
KING: Did you spend any time with him after he rescued you?
JONES: Just for a little bit on the boat and that. And I talked to him for a little bit, and he seemed like a very nice man. He's very gentle and so on.
KING: How did you hear about his death?
JONES: Over the news.
KING: Boy, it must have hit you.
JONES: Yes. I feel like I lost another friend.
KING: Thank you, Scott -- Scott Jones, who owes his life to Steve Irwin. Coming up, Steve Irwin's been offered the honor of a state funeral in Australia. We'll find out if his friend thinks that's what Irwin would have wanted when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scott Jones thought he was going to die after being swept out to sea in three-meter waves and lost for more than 20 hours, the experienced American scuba diver had given up on being rescued. Enter our very own Aussie Crocodile Hunter.
IRWIN: This is not the kind of place that you want to be floating around, bobbing around out in the ocean. The current's just ripping, just ripping.
On the rock, on the sea lion rock, the bloke is there. But no sign of the woman. And it looks like he's hurt. Whoo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It's almost like you two were fated.
IRWIN: Oh, yes, I sincerely believe that, yes. It was complete destiny and now we've got a daughter who's growing up like Mowgli.
KING: Have you been -- like what?
IRWIN: Mowgli out of the "Jungle Book," Mowgli, the little boy that runs around with the animals.
KING: Have you been frightened, Terri?
TERRY IRWIN, STEVE IRWIN'S WIFE: Yes. I think probably an average of once a week I'm afraid for my life or Steve's life, probably on average. But it is exciting because my husband literally saves my life from time to time and it's never a dull moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before I ask, it's mentioned the state funeral idea. Let's meet Michael Hornby, the executive director of Wildlife Warriors Worldwide. That's Steve and Terri Irwin's animal conservation organization. Michael, what happens to that now?
MICHAEL HORNBY, EXEC. DIR., WILDLIFE WARRIORS WORLDWIDE: Look, I think we've got to be more motivated than ever, Larry, to carry on the legacy that Steve Irwin created for us. It's a huge void to fill. There's no replacing a guy like Steve Irwin. But we're more determined than ever to carry on the good work that he started for us.
KING: It's going to make it harder, though, without some bellwether leading the way, isn't it? HORNBY: Well, it is. But you know, we're getting a lot of public outpouring now in support of Steve, in support of Wildlife Warriors as a result of this tragedy. And you know, our Web site has been inundated with offers of support. We've got 600 contributions since midnight and 6:00 a.m. this morning Australian time and 55 donations every 10 minutes. And I guess in a sort of sorry way that's what Steve was trying to engage in the first place. He was trying to get more of the people around the planet to get involved in conservation and the environmental movement. And you know, if his legacy will be, more people are getting on board finally.
KING: That Web site address, by the way, is wildlifewarriors.org.au. How did you hear about the accident, Michael?
HORNBY: Unfortunately, I guess we were hearing snippets through the media. I guess they were picking up on police scanners. We had it confirmed around 2:00 p.m. on Monday. And I have to say, for like people around the world, people with Wildlife Warriors and people at Australia zoo, it's a matter of disbelief. We haven't come to terms with it and we certainly haven't begun to grieve properly yet.
KING: Were you very close with the family?
HORNBY: Look, the Irwin family, once you know them and become involved with them at any level, you automatically become very close. You know, they take you into their hearts straight away. And you know, I've known John Stainton for quite a number of years now, and that was my first involvement with the Irwin family.
You know, Steve was just, as you saw him, is what he was like. You know, through the television screens is what he was like as a human being. He took you into his heart very much. And on a personal note he was very, very supportive of me through a personal family tragedy only a couple of months ago and I'll never forget that.
KING: Michael, by the way, is in Beerwah, Australia. John Stainton, what do you think of the idea of a state funeral in Australia? John?
STAINTON: Larry, I think Steve probably would have shied away from that. It's something we have to weigh up. Something that people don't know I mean, as much as Steve was a showman, he didn't really seek the fame and fortune of it in terms of going out and being publicly acclaimed like that.
And he did it because he knew he had to do that promotional work as an adjunct to the documentary work we did. It's probably not something he would have chosen. I don't know whether we will go that way. We won't make a decision, or the family won't make a decision for a couple of days until they all come to terms with the tragedy.
KING: Philippe, though, isn't it a worthy idea to give him that due since he had done so much, especially for Australia?
COUSTEAU: Well, as John said, it's up to Terri and the family. But certainly every accolade and every respect that can be paid to him and to his legacy is certainly worthwhile.
KING: Jeff Corwin, what do you think?
CORWIN: I think it's definitely warranted, it's definitely worth a state funeral. But you know, right now it's dealing with the moment, it's dealing with this tremendous tragedy. I can't imagine how they could even grapple with that. And this is just -- hopefully, there will be a new beginning for them. But right now trying to digest this tragedy is just almost unsurmountable.
KING: Michael Hornby, what do you think?
HORNBY: Look, you know, I've got the greatest respect for Steve. I like John knew that Steve was very much about being a very humble man and doing what was important and not really looking for the public accolades.
But I guess out of all this the greatest thing that governments can do in respect of Steve Irwin is to do things such as provide wildlife sanctuaries across Australia and even across the world. That would be the greatest tribute to the man.
KING: And we thank Jack Hanna for being with us as well. He's got other places to go. Jack from Big Fork, Montana. Thanks so much, Jack. Keep on keeping on.
HANNA: Yes, Larry. Can I say one thing?
KING: Yes, go ahead.
HANNA: I think the tribute is obviously Steve was noted all over the world and we all live this life only one time on the planet but the tribute's going to be what Steve left behind. And that's his magnificent zoological park and the memories that all of us will have of all his shows. And that's really what it boils down to in the end, whatever the tribute might be, it's what we're all going to remember him by, and he's left a great legacy.
KING: Well said, Jack. And we'll be right back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just sad to see him gone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like I've lost a son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crikey. He'll be missed, mate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: What you're looking at is mourners. That is a live shot of the Australian Zoo, a very famous zoo, and these are mourners at the zoo paying respects to the late Steve Irwin. You see his picture up there on the wall.
John Stainton, is Terry going to be -- I don't know if you've even talked about it yet. Is she going to be more involved now?
STAINTON: No, Larry. I think it'll be a few days before Terri can come to terms with it. I think the fact that Steve was so young and has left two little kids, great kids behind, she'll have a hard time handling the children and getting them through the tragedy as well. So everyone's just leaving her to deal with it in her own way and then finally when she feels it's right and the children are safe and secure with their thoughts, then she'll probably come out and say something publicly. But I don't envision that would happen for a week or a couple of weeks. Who knows? Whatever space she needs, she's got.
KING: Philippe Cousteau, John mentioned that you will continue with the project. Will it be difficult to finish it off without him?
COUSTEAU: Larry, it's going to be -- it is definitely going to be very difficult to finish this show for not just for myself, but for the incredible crew that is so dedicated to doing so. But we feel it's -- you know, when John asked me to do so, I was honored to be able to continue this show.
Steve and I spoke at length about why he does his work and the show in particular and just work in general. And you know, by far and away, humankind is the deadliest creature in the ocean. And if we can help bring that message to people around the world through this program and help them understand that all these animals have an important place in the world, then he'll be -- I think he'll be proud of that.
And you know, something that he told me many times, and we discussed at length as well, that coming out of this, what -- if there's anything that individuals and people can do, it's support conservation, as Jack and Jeff mentioned and John. Supporting conservation, supporting wildlife, and understanding that we all have a place in this world, and it needs to be respected.
KING: Jeff, have you done a lot of work underwater?
CORWIN: I have done a lot of work underwater, Larry. I've done work on stingrays. And ironically, last year filming in Costa Rica, while walking on a beach talking about the coastline, I stepped on a stingray and got nailed in the ankle. And I can tell you, it was one of the worst, most painful experiences in my life. And -- so -- but I never thought that it could actually cause mortality. So to see this unfold is most shocking.
But I think it's important to note, I think what Steve would want people to know, is that these are not aggressive creatures. And to me, the magical thing that he did, in his own electric way, was he took creatures that were normally vilified by people, and he turned that around, and he taught people to respect these creatures. And really created this sort of movement to engage these animals, understand them, and recognize their place.
KING: Michael, are you going to need some figure to head this?
HORNBY: Look, we're not sure. We're looking to encourage, obviously, ambassadors to get on board and follow through what Steve has commenced. We've got some celebrities that have come on board, mainly from Australia right now, including the Veronicas, who are obviously big in the U.S. as well. But we are looking for more people to be involved. We're looking for leaders. We're looking to make conservation a more broadstream issue now.
I mean, ultimately that's what it's about for Steve and for all of us, you know. There are many worthwhile organizations out there, but at end of the day, if our planet's not safe, you know, everything else is irrelevant.
KING: By the way, that Web site again is wildlifewarriors.org.au.
When we come back, special heartfelt wishes from two young American kids to the wife and children of Steve Irwin. And as we go to break, a clip from Jay Leno's tribute to Steve, which will air later tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY LENO, HOST, TONIGHT SHOW: He was probably the greatest ambassador Australia ever had. And our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
And I want to share with you -- I know -- I just thought it would be nice to kind of show you some of the good times we got to have when he came here. Take a look.
IRWIN: Let's get him up on your desk, mate.
LENO: Oh, yes, put him on my desk. That's a great idea.
IRWIN: They're actually the largest venomous -- crikey.
This is the ambush position.
LENO: But she wouldn't eat this, would she?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: My young children got to meet Steve the last time he was here. In fact, he spent about 20 to 25 minutes with them after the show. And of course, they were captivated and they were really torn by his loss. So they did a little thing that we're going to send to Steve's family, a little kind of a tribute. And we'll show them to you.
This is from Canon. He is age 6. His -- that's his feelings, his reaction to the death of Steve Irwin. Canon, age 6. Canon King.
And this is Chance King, age 7. Age 7, Chance King, on the death of Steve Irwin.
John Stainton, I know this has been a tough night for you, and I really can't thank you enough for sharing with us your thoughts during this whole hour. This is not going to be an easy period for you. But knowing you, having met you here, you're going to get back on the go soon, aren't you?
STAINTON: We will. Larry, Steve packed 10 lifetimes into his 44 years. And I've got to spend whatever life I've got left creating his legacy for him.
KING: And Philippe, when does the project start to continue that you'll finish?
COUSTEAU: Well, Larry, that's up to the family and to John. But we're working on that now. And the crew is dedicated.
And let me just say thank you for allowing me to share thoughts about Steve, and also that it was a real honor to have shared the time with him that I did.
KING: Thank you. You come from a great family. Don't you think your grandfather would have loved Steve?
COUSTEAU: I know he would have.
KING: Yeah, I'm certain he would have.
Michael, keep on keeping on. Thank you so much for being with us. And do the best you can with the Web site address of wildlifewarriors.org.au. Thanks, Michael.
HORNBY: Thank you, Larry. And can I just say thank you to the people of America who are getting behind Wildlife Warriors and helping to keep Steve's dream alive. Thank you.
KING: And Jeff Corwin, we love your work. We hope to have you back again soon. And thanks again for being with us.
CORWIN: Thank you, sir.
KING: I want to thank all my guests, and you too for tuning in tonight. Tomorrow night, we'll follow the president's 9 p.m. speech on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. And among the guests, Rudy Giuliani. And now, stay tuned for more news on your most trusted name in news, CNN.
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