Steve Irwin acted strangely in the days leading up to his fatal incident, according to his closest friends and colleagues. The Australian zookeeper’s longtime friend and producer, John Stainton is one such person who’s discussing the late star’s behavior during his last days, in the wake of the recent 15th anniversary of his death.

Stainton recently appeared on the ‘I’ve Got News For You’ podcast to discuss Irwin’s life. The producer recalled that his famous pal and colleague gave a “very, very weird” speech to the cast and crew just before they began filming ‘Ocean’s Deadliest.’ The nature documentary, which was Irwin’s last television project, premiered in the U.S. in January 2007 on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel.

“A couple of days before we started the show, he made a little speech to all the crew that were up there catching crocs for his research trip — which I joined at the end with our crew,” the producer said. “He was sort of thanking them all for being who they were and for helping him. It was like a finale speech.”

Unfortunately it was a finale speech, as Irwin died on September 4, 2006. He was killed after being impaled by a stingray barb at Australia’s Batt Reef, off the coast of Queensland.

Stainton witnessed the death, as he was filming scenes for ‘Ocean’s Deadliest.’ The producer said he felt uneasy about the trip before production began, as he had what he felt was a premonition of his own death. That anxiety inspired him to write a living will and undergo multiple medical checks before shooting the documentary.

In the years after his death, Irwin’s wife, Terri, and children, Bindi and Robert, have often spoken about the beloved conservationist. “Dad was my hero and the greatest Wildlife Warrior,” the late television personality’s daughter said in 2019. “It’s a blessing to continue his work with my amazing family. We hope to make him proud every day. We are celebrating with lots of khaki and animals! Khaki’s not just a color, it’s an attitude!”

The Irwin family celebrates the wildlife expert every November 15, which has been dubbed Steve Irwin Day. “Today is #SteveIrwinDay. Thinking a lot about my Dad today and the impact that he made on our planet, inspiring an entire generation. I also think about what a truly amazing dad he was,” Robert wrote on Instagram yesterday.

“Through a lifetime captured on camera and stories from my family and those who knew him best, I’m able to remember the special times with dad. I still look up to him every day and while I miss him so much, it means the world to me and my family that each year we can have a day for the world to celebrate what he stood for,” Irwin’s son added.

Bindi posted a tribute to her late father, as well. “Your legacy will live on forever. I love you for even longer,” she wrote on Instagram. “November 15, Steve Irwin Day.”

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