BEERWAH, Australia – "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, killed in a freak stingray attack this week, would not have wanted a state funeral because he wanted to be remembered as "an ordinary bloke," the TV star's father said Wednesday.
In the first public comments by Irwin's family since the hugely popular naturalist died Monday, Bob Irwin thanked his son's many fans for their messages of support, and said his son died doing what he loved.
Prime Minister John Howard said a state funeral was appropriate, calling Irwin a great ambassador for Australia. But Bob Irwin said it wouldn't be what Steve wanted.
"He's an ordinary guy, and he wants to be remembered as an ordinary bloke," Irwin's father said. "The state funeral would be refused."
The 44-year-old TV star was being filmed snorkeling with a stingray on the Great Barrier Reef when it lashed out with its tail, plunging a poisonous barb into his chest. He died minutes later.
Thousands of fans have flocked to his Australia Zoo wildlife park in Queensland state, creating a shrine of flowers and written tributes.
Bob Irwin, who started the wildlife park that his son turned into a major tourist attraction, said Steve realized his work was dangerous and that he could die doing it.
"Both of us over the years have had some very close shaves and we both approached it the same way, we made jokes about it," he said. "That's not to say we were careless. But we treated it as part of the job. Nothing to worry about really."
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"We weren't like father and son, we never were," he continued. "We were mates. I will remember Steve as my best mate ever."
Michael Hornby, the head of one of Irwin's wildlife charities, Wildlife Warriors, said the star's wife, Terri Irwin, was considering the state funeral offer, but Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio later reported that she had already decided against it.
Hornby said Terri Irwin was also thinking about having a smaller, private ceremony at an Outback location and approving a separate large event at a stadium in the state capital, Brisbane.
Separately Wednesday, Irwin's manager and close friend John Stainton said the videotape showing him being fatally stabbed should never be publicly aired.
"It should be destroyed," Stainton told CNN's "Larry King Live." He said he has seen the footage and it shows Irwin pulling the barb from his chest in his last moments.
The tape is in the possession of police as evidence for the coroner.
The Discovery Channel, which produced and aired Irwin's programs to a reported global audience of more than 200 million, said it will not show the footage.
Police have said there are no suspicious circumstances in Irwin's death, and no decision has been made about whether a coroner will hold a formal inquest or simply accept the police findings. No formal cause of death has been announced.
Terri Irwin briefly addressed park staff late Tuesday over a public address system.
"She was very choked up. It was a very frail comment," Hornby told The Associated Press Wednesday. "But she wanted to say to the staff how grateful she was for their support and how much it meant to her."
Bob Irwin said he had just spent nearly a month with his son's family on Cape York in tropical northern Australia doing crocodile research.
"Steve was probably the best I had seen him in many years, in his own personal attitude," he said. "He was peaceful. He was not under stress. And he was doing something that he really loved doing. I won't ever forget that three or four weeks."
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