Moving Croc Hunter image causes social media shutdown
A BUSHFIRE-related image depicting the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin welcoming wildlife to Heaven has become so popular the artist's Instagram page has been shut down.
The sketch depicts Australian animals next to the word "Crikey!" followed by a kneeling Steve Irwin saying 'Don't worry little guys! I'll take care of you."
By 1.30am January 5, Australian expatriate Sharnia-Mae Sturm II posted on her Sketchy Koala Facebook page that Instagram had unexpectedly deactivated her @sketchy_koala account, where she first posted her poignant image late December 31.
"So Instagram has deactivated my sketchy_koala account because they believe I have accumulated false likes and comments," she wrote.
"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."
Originally from WA, 22-year-old Mrs Sturm now lives in Atlanta with her husband Marshall.
She said her image had now been viewed more than 2.5 million times, including by the Irwin family at Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast.
A Crocodile Hunter fan since childhood, Mrs Sturm wrote that she was so proud the drawing had reached Queensland's Irwin family.
"I'm so proud, I found out last night that my drawing reached Bindi Irwin," she wrote.
"That's one of the biggest achievements I could reach from this. Just wow!"
Responding in the comments from her verified social media account, Bindi Irwin thanked the artist.
"This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing," Miss Irwin wrote.
Mrs Sturm said the image, which has moved thousands of people around the world to tears, became so unexpectedly popular that has given up on her original Instagram account being reactivated and had instead started a new one called @therealsketchykoala
Her drawing is now available for sale both via the artist and another Australian company, with some proceeds going to help bushfire victims.
Mrs Sturm has partnered with the Mt Gambier-based Treasured Memory Trove to turn the artwork into keyrings.
Owner of Treasured Memory Trove, Allison Schleef, said a portion of proceeds from the sales of the keyrings will be donated to charity.
"The proceeds will be split evenly between two bushfire fundraisers of my choice: I have chosen a koala conservation fundraiser run by Lisa Roberts of 'Unconditional Love all creatures great and small', and I am yet to decide on the humanitarian aid fund, but it will more than likely be the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal," she wrote on Facebook.
Mrs Schleef, 44, has also partnered with NSW-based artists Amy Nauf, 36, and Debb Oliver, 34, to turn their bushfire-related art into keyrings.
Ms Nauf's moving sketch "Sorry poss," which features a koala and a kangaroo next to a sullen firefighter saying looking at a burnt possum has also resonated with many.
Mrs Oliver's image of Steve Irwin surrounded by native wildlife under the heading "You'll be busy up there," has also already been shared thousands of times after recently posting it to social media under her The Monkey Brush logo.
Mrs Schleef said after costs, $11.25 from each key ring will be donated.
A single-sided key ring is $15, with a double sided one, featuring the Sketchy Koala images, $19.
Steve Irwin, who family still runs Australia Zoo, was a well-known wildlife expert, conservationist and became famous worldwide following his Crocodile Hunter television show.