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'Croc Hunter': I'm No Jacko

Here's another image from Jan. 2, 2004, of Irwin holding his son during a croc feeding at his Australian Zoo reptile park in Beerwah, Australia.
AP
"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin snapped back at critics who have accused him of endangering his month-old son's life by holding him while hand-feeding a crocodile, saying Monday that he would even do it again.

"What I would do differently is I would make sure there were no cameras around," Irwin told Network Nine television's nationally broadcast "A Current Affair" program.

"When I was a very small boy, my dad did the same for me. In fact when I was 9 years old, he let me jump, restrain and capture my first crocodile."

Child welfare advocates have said the TV hero endangered his son, Robert, in the incident Friday, drawing comparisons with pop star Michael Jackson who dangled his infant out of a hotel window in Berlin in November 2002.

Police said Sunday that Irwin would not be charged with violating any laws.

Irwin promised to give "A Current Affair" a videotape from his Australian Zoo reptile park where he staged the act, which he said would prove it was not as dangerous as the public believed.

"(The tape) will give you another angle so all that ugly stacked-up vision of me looking like I endangered my child will be put to bed very quickly," he said.

The celebrated animal lover, who has survived tussles with pythons and crocodiles, fed a 13-foot croc while cradling his baby during a media event at his reptile park in northeastern Australia.

Irwin also angrily rejected any comparisons to Jackson.

"I would never, ever put him in any danger, not in a million years," he told Australia's Sunday Telegraph.

"To hear people say that it was a publicity stunt, that I'm just like Michael Jackson well, it just tears me up. It makes me sick to my stomach to be compared in that way."

Jackson was criticized for the Berlin incident. In an unrelated high-profile case involving an accuser who is not related to the singer, Jackson has been charged in California with committing lewd acts on a child.

Meanwhile, a message board on a Web site used to promote Irwin's television shows in the United States has become a battleground for the crocodile hunter's critics and supporters.

Some fans sent messages of support while others vowed never to watch his shows again.

Irwin has gained worldwide fame for his "Crocodile Hunter" show on the Animal Planet network, in which he chats excitedly about exotic and dangerous creatures — sometimes from extremely close proximity to the beasts.