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Irwin memorial a hot ticket

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Crikey, the things people will sit through.

When 3,000 tickets for Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin's public memorial were released to the public on Friday, all of them were snapped up within minutes. Irwin died September 4 due to a fatal attack from a giant bull stingray, and his memorial is scheduled for Wednesday, September 20.

"It's unbelievable," Irwin fan Melissa Power, of Brisbane, Australia, told the Associated Press. "I haven't slept and am so overemotional--I'm looking so forward to it."

The public service will be attended by 5,000 people and will take place at the Australia Zoo Crocoseum, in Irwin's native state Queensland. Expected to be in attendance are Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, and Irwin friend Russell Crowe. Animal Planet will air the memorial live and commercial free.

Fans from all over the world are mourning Irwin, but in his native Australia they are taking it even harder. At first, the idea of a state funeral was floated, but that was turned down by his family, who said Irwin wouldn't have wanted so much hubbub.

"He wants to be remembered as an ordinary bloke," his father told the Sydney Morning Herald on September 7.

Irwin's manager and close friend John Stainton told The Daily Telegraph he doesn't want the memorial to become a media circus.

"It's not a circus big top thing, and it's been hard enough just getting it together without having to use publicity to make it work, it doesn't need it," he said.

Irwin's death was caught on video, and there has been speculation as to whether or not the video will see the light of day. While Staintion told Larry King he hopes it never gets seen, some media experts predict it will eventually leak onto the Web.

In the aftermath of Irwin's death, several stingrays were killed off the coast of Australia, possibly by vengeful fans. Scientists say that stingrays are one of the most docile animals in the ocean and rarely attack humans.

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