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Published: Saturday, 1/24/2004

Crocodile crazy

Talk about croc shock. The Aussie who plays extreme sports with crocodiles went over the top with his latest stunt. Steve Irwin, otherwise known as the zany Crocodile Hunter to millions of TV viewers, did something no father in his right mind would ever entertain.

The popular TV host, who likes to tempt fate by fearlessly finessing crocs at his Queensland zoo, pulled a Michael Jackson recently. Jacko, you'll remember, caused an uproar by dangling his baby son off a hotel balcony several stories high in Berlin.

"Crocodile Dumbdee," as letter writers in Australian newspapers have dubbed Mr. Irwin, decided it might be fun to tuck his new son, just a month old, under his arm while feeding a giant crocodile a dead chicken - about the size of baby Bob - with the other.

The Crocodile Hunter defended his actions, saying the baby was never in danger. Really? Did anyone fully explain that to the crocodile? Irwin also noted that it is important for his son to "grow up to be croc savvy."

Not at 1 month old, it isn't.

The public backlash against the TV host was swift and severe. While society may have become numb to the nonsense used to get attention these days, at least it knows where to draw the line.

Regardless of what he says, he used his kid as a prop on his show to ratchet up the excitement for viewers. The show was billed as Bob's "croc-feeding debut." As the crocodile's jaws snapped shut on his food, the TV host cooed, "Good boy, Bob."

Even crazier was a comment by the child's mother afterward gushing about what a wonderful sensory experience it was for her baby and how "he dug it." Child advocates in Australia clamored for an investigation, which cleared Irwin.

However, his stunt was horrifying and deserves outright condemnation.

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