The Crocodile Hunter Lady
“I think if it had been me who had gone first, then I would want Steve to be there for the kids and I would want him to hold his head up and continue. I wouldn’t want him to fall in a heap. I am still finding out how it all works, but I do know that Steve and I have a bond that will always be there. I’ll always be able to tap into that and I’ll just do my best to get stronger every day. I need to for my kids. I need to for the wonderful people at this zoo, for Steve’s dream, and for the wildlife he wanted to save.” Terri Irwin
Naturalist, zoologist and conservationist Terri Irwin is the widow of Australian naturalist Steve Irwin and owner of the Australia Zoo at Beerwah, in Queensland, Australia.
Along with her husband, she co-starred in the popular wildlife series "The Crocodile Hunter" (1997-2004), which spawned a number of separate projects, including the feature film "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course" (2002) and two television spin-offs, "The Crocodile Hunter Diaries" (2002-2006) and "Croc Files" (1999-2000).
Terri and Steve's daughter, Bindi, is the presenter of a 27-part wildlife documentary called “Bindi the Jungle Girl.” She also hosted a special about her father called “My Daddy the Crocodile Hunter.”
“Just like Steve did, Bindi's got that strange communication with wildlife. It's beautiful to watch. It instills a real empathy within all of us. That's a big part of our message.” Terri Irwin
Childhood and Family:
On July 20, 1964, Theresa Penelope Raines was born in Eugene, Oregon. The youngest of three daughters to a father who ran a successful construction business, Terri has two older sisters. She would take over the family's large trucking business at age 20.
While visiting Australia to explore the rehabilitation scene in wildlife parks in October 1991, Terri decided to visit the Australia Zoo at Beerwah, where she met Steve Irwin (born on February 22, 1962).
Only three months after their first meeting, the two became engaged and were married on June 4, 1992, in Terri's hometown of Eugene, Oregon. The footage of their crocodile-trapping honeymoon became the first episode of the series “The Crocodile Hunter,” which debuted on Australian TV in 1996 and later became successful in the United States.
Talking about her first meeting with Steve, Terri described, “My background in America was working with an organization called Cougar Country, which I founded to work with predatory mammals. And so coming to Australia and discovering this Tarzan, if you will, of a guy, I was a little bit skeptical. So after talking to him and finding out that he absolutely lives for his conservation work, I was really attracted to those ethics. That really drew me in and I think I fell in love with his spirit before noticing those great shorts. But I did notice the great shorts too.”
On July 24, 1998, Terri gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named Bindi Sue Irwin (named after two of Steve Irwin's favorite animals: Bindi, a saltwater crocodile, and Sui, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier who died in June 2004). The second child, a son named Robert Clarence "Bob" Irwin, was born on December 1, 2003.
Their daughter Bindi, who began appearing on television shows as a public figure as early as age two, is following in her parents’ footsteps. She is the presenter of a 27-part wildlife documentary called “Bindi the Jungle Girl.” She also has a kid fitness DVD and recently made an album called “Trouble in the Jungle.” Additionally, she hosted a special about her father called “My Daddy the Crocodile Hunter.”
“Bindi is a remarkable little girl. There are times when she astounds me. I understand that if you don’t know Bindi or if you have a child who has stage fright, then it might seem odd that she can walk out in front of a huge crowd and talk so well, but you have to understand, she’s been in front of crowds since she was born. Her birth was filmed. She’s been comfortable with cameras and filming her whole life. There is nothing abnormal about her life. The tooth fairy brings her money for her teeth when they fall out. We have Christmas like everybody else. She goes to school here at the zoo. We have a teacher, Miss Emma, who goes everywhere with us. Bindi likes Britney Spears and she loves the pop star Pink. She's a normal kid.” Terri Irwin
On the morning of September 4, 2006, while Terri and her children were reportedly trekking in Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, Steve was killed by a stingray while filming an underwater documentary.
The following month on October 31, 2006, Terri was invited to the Royal Albert Hall to present a Special Recognition Award to Sir David Attenborough at the British National Television Awards. She cited Attenborough as a great inspiration for her late husband, saying, "If there's one person who directly inspired my husband, it's the person being honored tonight. [Steve's] real, true love was conservation and the influence of tonight's recipient in preserving the natural world has been immense."
Following Steve's death, Terry reportedly had a major falling out with Bob Irwin, the father of Steve Irwin. He announced in March 2008 that he had resigned from the Australia Zoo in order to “keep his son's dream alive.”
Steve and Me
While working in the family trucking business in 1986, Terri, whose favorite animals are cougars, formed a rehab facility called "Cougar Country," where she handled 300 animals a year. The goal was to re-educate and release predatory mammals, such as fox, possum, raccoon, bears, bob-cats, and of course cougars, back into the wild.
Terri, who also owned 15 cats, several birds and a dog as pets, is also a certified Zoologist. Besides taking care of injured animals at her home in Eugene for several years, she was also a volunteer for area zoos and helped organize free children's zoos in local parks by setting up and providing some of her own animals for exhibits.
In 1989, Terri worked as a vet technician at an emergency veterinary hospital, where she learned further about caring for animals.
After marrying Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin in 1992, Terri left her family's large trucking business, the “Cougar Country,” her veterinary work and all her beloved pets, to move to Australia where she quickly adapted to her new role in helping Steve run the Australia Zoo.
When asked how it was feeding a crocodile for the first time, Terri admitted, “The first time was about two years after Steve and I were married because I had to drum up enough courage. I had the feeling that I was in front of a loaded cannon that would go off at any time and would have to dodge the cannonball once it went off. It was overwhelmingly exhilarating. They are a camouflage predator and if you are near them at the water's edge they will get you. The first time I did it, I almost wet my pants, to be honest with you.”
Meanwhile, Terri and Steve hosted "The Crocodile Hunter" (1997-2004), a wildlife documentary television series that became a popular franchise due to its unconventional approach and Irwin's outrageous antics. The series, which has been presented on Animal Planet and has been in international syndication on networks worldwide, spun off a number of separate projects, including the feature film "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course" (2002), an Australian comedy-adventure film in which she also co-starred with Steve, and two television spin-offs: "The Crocodile Hunter Diaries" (2002-2006) and "Croc Files" (1999-2000).
Terri also appeared on Animal Planet's float in the 1999 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and in the TV commercial for the Crocodile Hunter board game. In 2001, she released the book "The Crocodile Hunter: The Incredible Life and Adventures of Steve and Terri Irwin" by Steve Irwin, and her book "Steve and Me" in 2007.
“Steve always says, 'Whatever you do, keep rolling!' I tell him, 'They aren't going to show it if you die.'" Terri Irwin
For her services to wildlife conservation and the tourism industry, Terri was made an honorary Member of the Order of Australia in 2006. Following Steve's death, Terri continues to run the Australia Zoo.