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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 January, 2004, 20:04 GMT
No charges after croc baby stunt
Steve Irwin holding baby near croc
Steve Irwin's stunt drew gasps from the audience
Australia's celebrity crocodile hunter will face no charges for holding his baby son near the jaws of a crocodile, the Queensland authorities say.

Steve Irwin outraged child welfare groups after cradling one-month-old Robert a metre away from the reptile during a show at his Queensland zoo.

But the acting Queensland premier said no charges would be laid.

"The Irwins... have assured children's services that it won't happen again," Terry Mackenroth said.

Mr Irwin and his wife Terri maintained that their son was in no danger but admitted there would be no repeat of his Friday's 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 drew comparisons with pop icon 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.

Assurances

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

Steve and Terry Irwin
Steve Irwin, with his wife Terry, defended his actions

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.

"There won't be any charges brought against him (Mr Irwin). The department of children's services have done what they needed to do, to contact the family and to talk to them about it," Mr Mackenroth said on Saturday.

"They've assured them that it won't happen again and I am sure that if it does they will be back in touch with them," "Mr Mackenroth later 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.

Michael Jackson dangles his baby over a hotel balcony in Germany
Jackson apologised after dangling his baby over a hotel balcony

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

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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