Social media was abuzz when a cartoon went viral showing Steve Irwin in heaven welcoming Australian animals that have died in the bushfires.
The artist was 22-year-old Sharnia-Mae Sturm who shared the heartbreaking sketch on Instagram on New Year’s Eve when the world received news of just how devastating the Australian bushfires had become.
The poignant illustration features the late Crocodile Hunter with arms wide open as he greeted kangaroos, koalas, and other wildlife that have perished because of the blazes, saying, “Don’t worry little guys! I’ll take care of you!”
The post soon went viral across several social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Sturm is originally from WA but now resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She said she was soon flooded with so many messages and praises that her account got deactivated.
Posting from her Sketchy Koala Facebook page, Sturm told fans: “So Instagram has deactivated my sketchy_koala account because they believe I have accumulated false likes and comments.
“I guess it’s from the sudden outburst of people liking commenting and sharing my drawing. I’m working on getting it back online though! Thank you all for your love and support.”
More than 2.5 million people have viewed the cartoon and have generated many more tears.
“Look at this. Just, look. Let that sink in. I don’t have words, but I sure have tears. So poignant. I urge anyone wanting to help to donate,” said one Instagram user.
One woman shared the post on Facebook, describing it as, “An amazingly sad artwork reflecting on the bush fires across Australia. This one really hit home to think of all the animals that are now gone forever, now being taken of by Steve Irwin from above.”
The cartoon even caught the attention of Bindi, Irwin’s daughter, and she went to the comments to thank the artist.
Irwin passed away in September 2006 after he was stabbed in the chest by a stingray barb whilst filming a documentary at the Great Barrier Reef.
Irwin’s son Robert was two at the time while Bindi was eight.