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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 08:36 GMT 09:36 UK
Thousands at Irwin memorial event
Bindi Irwin speaks at her father's memorial
Bindi Irwin described her father as a "hero"

More than 5,000 people have attended a memorial service for the Australian television naturalist, Steve Irwin, who was killed two weeks ago.

The service, at Mr Irwin's Crocoseum stadium in Queensland, was broadcast by three of Australia's TV networks.

The tributes were led by Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who said Mr Irwin had taught people to love and respect all creatures, great and small.

Mr Irwin died after being spiked in the chest by the barb of a stingray.

The one-hour ceremony was set to music as speakers paid tribute to the 44-year-old, who was famous for his stunts with crocodiles and other dangerous reptiles.

Footage was shown of the television presenter falling out of boats, being lunged at by crocodiles and lizards and forgetting his lines.

Employees of Mr Irwin's zoo staged a guard of honour as his pick-up truck drove past, bearing the late naturalist's camping gear and favourite surfboard.

The employees then laid yellow flowers on the ground of the stadium, spelling out Irwin's catchphrase, "Crikey".

'Touched millions'

Hollywood actors Russell Crowe and Cameron Diaz were among those paying tribute to the naturalist.

Zoo workers hold animals during the memorial service
Animals were also present at the memorial service

"I know as humble as you always were, you would still be pleased to know that the world sends its love and people all over the planet have been grieving," Mr Crowe said.

One of the most touching speeches was made by Steve Irwin's eight-year-old daughter Bindi.

"My daddy was a hero - he was always there for me when I needed him," said the youngster, who like her mother Terri and two-year-old brother Robert, was wearing Steve Irwin's trademark khaki.

She said her father had been "working to change the world so everyone would love wildlife like he did".

"I don't want daddy's passion to ever end. I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did," Bindi Irwin said.

"I have the best daddy in the whole world and I will miss him every day," she said. "When I see a crocodile, I will always think of him."

Mr Howard said Steve Irwin had "touched the hearts of Australians and touched the hearts of millions around the world in a very special way".

"He brought to Australians and the world an understanding of nature," the prime minister said.




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Fans, family and friends pay tribute to Steve Irwin



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