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Within hours of hearing the news, fans everywhere found ways to express their heartfelt grief. The Prime Minister of Australia offered to hold a state funeral for Irwin, and close friend Russell Crowe remembered him, saying, "He touched my heart. I believed in him. I loved him and I'll be there for his family." Even those who only knew Irwin from TV filed past his Queensland zoo on the Sunshine Coast and left flowers and notes of condolence.
It was a tragic, yet in some ways not wholly unexpected end for the adventurer. Irwin had been around animals from an early age. His father, Bob, 66, opened Australia Zoo in 1973, and his mother, Lyn, who died in a car accident in 2000, was a former nurse who cared for baby kangaroos and injured birds. Wrestling his first crocodile at 9 years old under his dad's supervision, Irwin has said that working with animals was "in my genetic makeup."