VENOMOUS SNAKE. Knowing how to avoid being bitten by deadly snakes is one of the pillars of Irwin's reputation.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: I've been really curious about the reactions of people who have seen your FedEx commercial . . .

STEVE: It's funny isn't it?

SA: Yes, it's really funny. I'm glad you were up for that.

SA to John Stainton, Steve's producer: Was that your idea?

JOHN STAINTON: No, no. Actually, we pushed it, but we were a little bit worried about people thinking that he's been bitten by a snake. But I think everyone's into the joke.

SA: Oh, but I saw that everyone's most frequently asked on your Web site is "Are you still alive?" And believe me, when I first started talking about trying to meet you, people were trying to convince me that you were dead, and I said no, I really don't think so.

STEVE: I'm still here, mate.

SA: I can see that. Great, well, it's good to know. But I wonder about the people who have only some vague sense of who you are. And heaven forbid if they saw your representation on South Parkhave you seen that?

STEVE: Yeah, that was hilarious. "I'm going to stick my thumb in this rattlesnake's butt-hole, just to piss it off." [Paraphrasing one of the lines of the South Park cartoon character.] I mean, we nearly died laughing.

SA: So it doesn't bother you?

STEVE: Oh, mate! Honestly, I loved that. You know, I'm Australian, and we have got the worst sense of humor. We are cruel to each other. South Park was excellent, really. Imagine how you can back our message, whether the animators agree or not, taking our message to South Park and touching millions of people around the world with animation. And it's not stopping here, mate. What's coming up is unbelievable. We've got running on our own animated series.

SA: Your own animated series?

STEVE: Yeah, yeah, we've got "Croc Hunter," we've got "Australia Zoo: The Documentary," we've got a movie coming up, we've got animation on a roll, we've got another couple of things on the burner, as far as television, as far as big-screen cinemas.

See, I've always seen Jacques Cousteau as a hero, mate. He's a legendlike my dad, just a legend. And so what he did for conservation in the '60s through the '70s was just phenomenal. And I want to be just like him, you know? I want to have a milestone, you know? I want to create history. So we've gone beyond the media that we're working with now, and we're taking the media, we're taking the "Croc Hunter" message, we're taking conservation and the greening of our planet to kids toys, to shirtsyou know, our shirts will be an advertisement of conservation. It's like we're taking it to the nth degree. In fact, we probably won't stop there either. If there's another medium where we can just get people excited about conservation we'll take it, we'll run with it.

Back to Part 2: Protecting Wildlife in His Own Backyard

Ahead to Part 4: Adrenaline Junkie?

Back to Meet the Crocodile Hunter