Crikey, Steve Irwin was the greatest. His irresistible bravado, hyper activity, and thick Aussie accent made him easy to imitate and impossible to forget. When he tragically died in 2006, the world grieved for the seemingly immortal man. We’d miss him on our TV screens, but the most heartbreaking part was seeing the devastation of his devoted wife and young children.
It’s been over a decade since the death of her father, and the now adult Bindi has found her own fame. As her star continues to rise, Bindi always remembers to keep her dad’s legacy alive. So when she got engaged to her own khaki clad conservationist, Bindi shared a teary tribute to the man she wished was there to witness it.
For a younger generation of animal-obsessed kids, Bindi Irwin has the same fiery, easy-to-love, yet wildly daring personality that her father had. The kind of presence that reaches through the television and makes you pay attention.
The 21-year-old has followed in her father’s footsteps as a conservationist and public figure. From before she could talk, she was toddling after her energetic dad as he tussled around with massive crocodiles and other creatures that would make an average joe pee their pants. Steve was the opposite of average.
Steve Irwin was The Crocodile Hunter, though he was less predator and more of a massive fanboy. He was a dedicated conservationist with a contagious infatuation for animals, the gnarlier the better. The world fell for his enthusiasm, foolhardiness, and quotable catchphrases.
Arm and arm with his wife Terri, they immersed themselves in conservation efforts. Quickly their television shows propelled Steve to household name status all over the world. They channeled their magnetic energy into the family business, Australia Zoo.
Celebrity didn’t interest Steve unless he could use it to help and protect the creatures he loved so much. His authenticity was palpable — seen in his cries of “Crikey!” and willingness to wrestle with deadly animals. He had a singular focus for that unbridled energy, and it all shifted after having kids.
On July 24th, 1998, Steve and Terri welcomed their first child, a daughter they named after Steve’s favorite saltwater croc, Bindi. Holding his daughter brought forward a new motivation for the crocodile hunter. As he described it, Bindi was “the reason he was put on the Earth.”
A few years later, Terri and Steve had their son Robert. The norm for the Irwins was crowding around a crocodile or snuggling up with snakes. For Steve, sharing the joys of nature with his kids, watching their passions for animals blossom, that was as good as it could get. But it was tragically cut short.
Bindi Irwin / Instagram
While filming for the show Ocean’s Deadliest, Steve and his crew were just off the coast of Batt Reef in Queensland. Steve snorkeled in the shallows, capturing the rear view of a short tail stingray. It raised its barbed tail and struck Steve hundreds of times in mere seconds.
At first, it looked like Steve might be okay, but the barb had pierced his heart. They rushed him to the hospital where he died from blood loss. The shock was brutal. As the news swept the globe, everyone collectively mourned the so vivacious, brave, seemingly invincible man — the Crocodile Hunter.
When Terri met Steve, her first impression was that he presented as a superhero. His loss sucked the wind out of their family. In their grief, they knew the world wanted to say goodbye, so after a private funeral, a public memorial service was held at Australia Zoo.
Over 300 million people tuned in. Australian celebrities attended, like Russell Crowe, and there was even a remembrance from the Prime Minister. Still, the most tear-jerking moment was the eulogy delivered by little Bindi, who spoke about how much she would miss her greatest hero.
In her eulogy, Bindi set the tone for what they planned to do in Steve’s absence. The Irwins intended to continue inspiring others through conservation work and encouraging people to appreciate wildlife. They walked the walk.
Bindi Irwin / Instagram
Terri picked up the torch and ran with it, expanding the exhibits at Australia Zoo. When not making plans to grow the attraction, Terri helmed their foundation, WildLife Warriors. Donations poured in after Steve’s death, allowing them to launch key research initiatives proudly represented by their new public face: Bindi.
The 8-year-old continued on as the onscreen talent in the family, starring in her own nature documentary show for children called Bindi The Jungle Girl. She inherited the natural charisma from Steve, leading to a slew of TV and film opportunities.
In 2015, Bindi joined the other celebrities competing on the 21st season of Dancing with the Stars. Week after week, Bindi showed off her prowess on the dance floor, occasionally honoring her father in the process. She snatched the victor’s title and many hearts, but there was only one heart she was interested in.
It was an American professional wakeboarder named Chandler Powell that caught Bindi’s eye. While leading a tour of Australia Zoo, Bindi met Chandler and his family in 2013. They stayed in touch, swapping letters and phone calls until they made their relationship public in 2015.
Chandler made the transition to a mostly khaki lifestyle in 2018, moving across the world to work for Australia Zoo. By that point, he was already considered part of the Irwin family, though his dedication to wildlife conservation gave him the final stamp of approval.
Bindi Irwin / Instagram
On Bindi’s 21st birthday, Chandler got down on one knee and asked if she’d be his croc wrestling partner for life. She said yes! Chandler certainly knew the way to her heart, by popping the question in the gardens of Australia Zoo, with Robert hiding in the bushes to snap pictures.
Bindi Irwin / Instagram
Working Robert into the proposal meant the world to Bindi. The tight knit Irwins learned to appreciate the moments they got together, never forgetting that Steve wasn’t there to witness them, too. Bindi posted a slew of engagement photos in celebration, and one brought the feels back to the surface.
She penned an open letter to her father. Rather than raking through the what-ifs and the should-ofs, Bindi wrote about how proud her dad would be of her brother Robert. “He’s always stepped up and been the one to give me a hug when I need it and encourage me forward in life.”
Bindi Irwin / Instagram
So it made sense that he was the only person capable of filling her father’s shoes on her big day. Bindi wrote, “He will definitely be the one to walk me down the aisle….And I think that’s what Dad would have wanted as well.” Crikey, mate. Where’re the tissues?
There’s no doubt that Steve would be incredibly proud of Robert and Bindi. He was known to gush about how transformative becoming a father was for his life, and knowing his children continued with his work in conservation, by his own admission, was his greatest dream.
Steve Irwin remains one of the most famous wildlife conservationists of all time, yet his tragic death serves as an example of how dangerous the work can be. For the most experienced handlers, engaging with wild animals can switch from cozy to imminent death, instantly.
South Africa People News
As a zookeeper in South Africa, Kevin Richardson is no stranger to interacting with some of the most dangerous animals on the planet. A self-taught expert, he’s done everything in his power to educate himself on the proper way to handle big cats and wild animals.
Yet, everyone makes mistakes at their job now and again, and sometimes those mistakes can lead to dire consequences. Such was certainly the case for Kevin when he recently came upon a lioness and her cubs and decided to stick around to try and play.
After setting up his camera to capture the moment, Kevin quietly walked over in an attempt to pick up one of the adorable lion cubs. Just as he sat down to play with the baby, the lioness picked up on what he was doing…
Just then, the mother instinctively jumped up once she saw that Kevin was holding her cub. While the unassuming zookeeper held the baby animal, the lioness made her move—and jumped on top of him!
Kevin wrapped his arms around her in an attempt to protect his face. The lioness was incredibly heavy, and she could slash him into bits with just one swift strike with her paw…
Luckily, she didn’t want to harm Kevin at all! See, Kevin had visited her all throughout her pregnancy, and the two were well-acquainted. She simply wanted to play! Still, Kevin was well-aware of the risks he took every time he came face to face with the big cats.
“Usually when I come in here, I first greet mom to see how she is,” Kevin said while the lioness sat at his feet. “She talks back, and I have a little bit of fun with her.” This certainly explained why they were so close!
Kevin was also sure to mention how important it was for the lioness to feel comfortable with him before he was able to play with her cubs. “After I’ve made an introduction with her on a daily basis, I get a bit closer to the cubs,” he said.
As the self-proclaimed “Lion Whisperer,” this was all in a day’s work for Kevin. In one video, he could be seen gently stroking one of the cub’s faces. He explained that it was unusual for humans to be allowed to interact with baby lions like this.
Even with all his experience, Kevin had to be careful; there was simply no way to predict how the lioness would react to his presence. “Not many people get to see cubs this size, never mind, interact with them,” he said.
During sessions like these, Kevin and the other zookeepers managed to learn a lot about the cubs. From the way they interacted with him to the way they played with each other, all of this information would help people learn more about these animals.
Kevin and other researchers also learned how best to approach other lions at facilities around the world. In a field that can be extremely dangerous, they knew it was imperative to have as much experience and wisdom as they could.
For instance, when it was feeding time, Kevin knew not to overstay his welcome. He would help gather the cubs and bring them to the lioness to let her know that he was not going to hurt them.
Whenever the cubs were feeding, Kevin and the other zookeepers made sure to separate the lioness from the rest of the pride. This allowed her to feel safe and have her own space with her cubs, just like in the wild.
If they weren’t separated, Kevin said the rest of the pride would think it was okay to rough around and play with each other, instead of allowing the cubs to get their nutrition. That, of course, would all change as the cubs continued to grow.
Once the cubs were eight weeks old, they could be integrated with the rest of the pride. Research suggested that, by that point, they’d be strong enough to handle playing with the larger lions.
This made Kevin’s ability to interact with the cubs all the more special. The pride’s father wasn’t even able to spend time with them—besides through a fence—for another few weeks. It was as if Kevin had a VIP backstage pass to the rest of the family!
Of course, with all the time Kevin spent with the family, he was sure to form a tight bond with the lioness. In fact, if he became tuckered out after playing for a few hours, he’d even lie down to nap under her watchful eye!
Being a mother was difficult and tiring, so every once in a while, the lioness would even lie down for a nap with her cubs and Kevin, too! It just proved that the man and the animals had a special bond like no other.