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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 January, 2004, 06:30 GMT
Inquiry into croc baby stunt
Steve Irwin said he had to teach his children to be
Steve Irwin said he had to teach his children to be "croc-savvy"
Australia's celebrity crocodile hunter is facing a state government investigation after holding his baby son near the jaws of a crocodile.

Steve Irwin sparked outrage across Australia after cradling his one-month-old a metre away from the reptile during a show at his Queensland zoo.

The Queensland authorities are asking for unedited tapes of the incident to see if it breached safety regulations.

Steve Irwin defended his actions but admitted there would be no repeat of his controversial performance.

If I could have my time again I would probably do things differently, but I would be considered a bad parent if I didn't teach my children to be croc-savvy
Steve Irwin
The act has brought comparisons with Michael Jackson's dangling of his child over a hotel balcony.

Dozens of people rang a childcare hotline after Mr Irwin's performance, and the Australian Family Association called the conduct "child abuse".

The Childhood Foundation condemned the move as reckless.

"It's neglect... I don't think we should use children as props, and definitely not in situations that are going to put them in such danger," said the foundation's Joe Tucci.

Investigation

Telephone lines of radio and television chat shows were jammed with people calling to express their disapproval.

Local media said police went to the zoo to tell Mr Irwin of people's objections to the incident, but said he had not committed any criminal offence.

Queensland's Acting Premier Terry Mackenroth said a government office for child welfare also spoke to the Irwin family to ensure there would be no repeat performance.

Steve and Terry Irwin
Steve Irwin, with his wife Terry, defended his actions
"They claim that the child was not in danger but they understand people's concerns and they have assured children's services that it won't happen again," he said.

The state's Families' Department confirmed it was seeking unedited copies of the tape from the Irwin family to assess whether workplace health and safety regulations were breached.

"I have seen the television footage and while I have no doubt the Irwins love their children very much, I believe it was an error of judgement to place a baby in a potentially dangerous situation," said Families' Minister Judy Spence.

'Croc savvy' baby

To gasps from his audience, Steve Irwin cradled one-month-old Robert under one arm while dangling a piece of chicken from the other in front of a four metre (13 foot) crocodile.

Once the meat was snapped up, Mr Irwin turned to his son and said: "Good boy, Bob".

Michael Jackson dangles his baby over a hotel balcony in Germany
Jackson apologised after dangling his baby over a hotel balcony
The crocodile expert defended his act, which included his American wife Terri carrying Robert into the crocodile enclosure.

He said he was in control the whole time and the baby was never in danger. In any case his children had to grow up to be "croc savvy" living so close to such reptiles.

"If I could have my time again I would probably do things differently," he admitted. "But I would be considered a bad parent if I didn't teach my children to be croc-savvy."

Mrs Irwin said her baby enjoyed the experience.

"When I put him back in the pram he had big eyes and he was smiling and it was a wonderful sensory experience for him. He dug it," she said.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Philippa Young
"According to baby Bob's dad, it's never too early to get 'croc-savvy'"



SEE ALSO:
Traps set for HK croc
07 Dec 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Hunter gives up on HK croc
27 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Crocodile foils new capture bid
17 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Hong Kong crocodile eludes hunter
16 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Hong Kong crocodile hunt begins
14 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Croc hunter heads for Hong Kong
11 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Croc on the loose in Hong Kong
04 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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