Stephen M. Silverman
January 02, 2004 01:05 AM

“The Crocodile Hunter” star Steve Irwin fed a 12-1/2-foot-long crocodile with one arm while holding his one-month-old son Bob in the other on New Year’s Day at the Irwins’s Australia Zoo reptile park in Australia’s Sunshine Coast, NBC reported Friday morning.

News anchor Ann Curry, on the “Today” show,” said that a public outcry is expected.

True enough, reports Australia’s Sydney Herald Sun newspaper: Irwin now faces possible investigation by Queensland police, the Department of Families and workplace safety officers.

The stunt – Irwin also “walked” Bob to the crocodile pool and back towards wife Terri Irwin – was roundly criticized by child support groups, who likened what Irwin did with Bob to Michael Jackson’s dangling his infant son over a Berlin hotel balcony last year.

“It’s neglect, it’s reckless, it’s a form of endangerment,” Childhood Foundation chief Joe Tucci told the newspaper of Irwin’s stunt, adding that the TV star could face criminal charges if he continues to put his baby in harm’s way.

“I don’t think we should use children as props, and definitely not in situations that are going to put them in such danger,” said Tucci.

Wednesday’s show, for the public and the media, was billed as Bob’s “croc-feeding debut.”

“He’s one month old, so it’s about time Bob got out there and did his first croc demo,” Irwin told the crowd.

Irwin, 41, later told the Herald Sun: “If I had known it was going to cause a ruckus I would have thrown (the media) out by their ears. I was in complete control of the crocodile. Robert was tucked right in my arm. It is far more dangerous to pack your kid up and go out on the road.”

Terri Irwin also supported her husband’s stunt with Bob, telling the paper: “When I put him back in the pram he had big eyes, and he was smiling and it was a wonderful sensory experience for him. He dug it.”

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