AUSTRALIA: 'Steve Irwin's memorial won't turn into circus'

Manager says service, to be televised live around the world, will not be 'publicity spectacle'

Times of India
Monday, September 18, 2006

Brisbane --- Australian daredevil naturalist Steve Irwin's public memorial this week will not degenerate into a circus, the late crocodile hunter's manager vowed on Monday.

Some 5,500 guests, including around 3,000 members of the public and VIPs led by Australian Prime Minister John Howard, will attend the final farewell for the television wildlife expert killed in a stingray attack two weeks ago.

But John Stainton, Irwin's manager, producer and long-time friend, said he was determined that the service, which will be televised live across the globe, will not become a media-driven circus.

"I really don't want to make a publicity spectacle out of who is going to be doing anything or who is going to be appearing and turn it into a circus," said Stainton, who was with Irwin when the 44-year-old was stabbed in the heart with a stingray barb as he snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef.

"It's not a circus big-top thing and it's been hard enough just getting it together without having to use publicity to make it work," he said of the service to be held at the "Crocoseum" of Irwin's Australia Zoo north of Brisbane.

Stainton refused to divulge details of the service at 9:00 am Wednesday (0430 IST) in the venue Irwin used for his live crocodile shows.

Irwin's US widow Terri, her eight-year-old daughter Bindi and Irwin's father Bob Irwin are all scheduled to speak at the memorial service, but Stainton warned that Terri and Bindi may still be too devastated to take the dais.

"I don't want to put her through any stress at all. Steve wouldn't want that," he said.