Steve Irwin, popularly known as "Crocodile Dundee," was an Australian conservationist who devoted his life to saving wild animals. He was also a loving father of two, Bindi and Robert, who work tirelessly to keep Steve's memory alive years after his passing. Bindi honored her father's memory and felt his presence on her wedding day.
Steve Irwin was a doting father of two: his daughter, Bindi, and his son, Robert. He and his wife, Terri spent a lot of their time caring for wildlife and teaching their children all they knew about wildlife conservation.
But Steve had some reservations about being a father before his daughter, Bindi, was born. In an interview with Australian Story in 2003, Steve didn't really care for the idea of becoming a parent, but as soon as Bindi was born, Steve's life was transformed for the better.
STEVE IRWIN'S TRAGIC DEATH
Throughout much of his career, Steve shot many documentaries showcasing different kinds of wildlife, especially those that were in danger of going extinct.
During one such shoot on Queensland's Batt Reef in Australia, Steve and his close friend and cameraman, Justin Lyons, were both on the search for tiger sharks. While out at sea, they hit some bad weather.
Steve couldn't stand being stuck on the boat with nothing to do, so he and Justin jumped on a small inflatable boat to find some wildlife in the vast ocean.
Steve Irwin poses with his family at Australia Zoo June 19, 2006 in Beerwah, Australia. | Source: Getty Images
It didn't take long for them to find a gigantic eight-foot-wide stingray that would be perfect footage for another project they were working on. But things took a turn for the worst for Steve. "All of a sudden, it propped on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail, hundreds of strikes in a few seconds," said Justin.
Justin added that the stingray probably thought that Steve was a predator and started to attack him. When Justin turned to look at Steve, he realized the tail strikes had gone straight into Steve's chest.
Even though Justin quickly got Steve back onto the boat, it was clear that Steve wouldn't be able to get to the hospital on time. "He just sort of calmly looked up at me and said, " 'I'm dying — and that was the last thing he said," Justin remembered.
Steve Irwin poses with his daughter, Bindi Irwin, October 2, 2006 in Uluru, Australia. | Source: Getty Images
In the days leading up to Steve's death in 2006, Steve's producer, John Stainton, had an ominous feeling about the shoot they were about to embark on. Just before shooting for the documentary, John remembered a speech that Steve gave:
“He was sort of thanking them all for being who they were and for helping him. It was like a finale speech.”
Whether or not Steve's final speech to the crew was a premonition of his death, his wife, Terri, recalled that Steve believed that he wouldn't live a long life. "He always kind of had this sense his life would be cut short," Terri said.
Terri also revealed that she had fears about raising their two children alone. Shortly after Steve's death, two-year-old Robert kept asking where his daddy was. Bindi, who was only a few years older than Robert, remained strong for Terri.
Steve Irwin at the Academy Theatre in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images
HOW STEVE'S DEATH STRENGTHENED THE FAMILY
Terri revealed that Steve's tragic death brought the family closer together. The years of grief they experienced laid a solid foundation for strong family ties. But Steve's death also created a rift in the extended family.
Steve's father, Bob Snr., gave Beerwah Reptile Park — now known as Australia Zoo — to Steve and Terri in 1992. But Bob remained involved in the business as it grew.
However, two years after Steve's death, Bob Snr. abruptly left the business after falling out with Terri about how the business should be managed.
Bindi, Robert, Terri and Bob Irwin pose in front of a statue of the family that was unveiled today during "Steve Irwin Memorial Day" at Australia Zoo on November 15, 2007. | Source: Getty Images
Bob Sn. and Terri reached a settlement that allowed Bob to buy a property he named "Camp Chilli," after Steve's favorite camping spot. Bob has remained estranged from Terri and his grandchildren ever since.
But that was not all. Steve's older sister Joy and her family were also once involved in the daily running of the Australia Zoo. But in 2015, Joy's husband, Frank, was fired from the zoo. Joy and her children soon left the zoo as well.
Steve's oldest daughter, Bindi, said that her relationship with her grandfather became strained over the years when he chose to become reclusive. 'Everyone deals with grief differently. When my dad passed away, he chose to distance himself from everything that dad loved the most,' she said.
Conservationists/TV personalities Terri Irwin, Bindi Irwin and Robert Irwin attend Steve Irwin being honored posthumously with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 26, 2018 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images
As Bindi and Robert grew up, they both reached a crossroads where they had to decide whether to follow Steve's path or choose something completely different. Bindi and Robert both chose to dive head first into the wildlife conservation work that their father loved so much.
Part of the siblings' conservation efforts involved tagging crocodiles as part of a study in partnership with the University of Queensland in Australia. "This research was all started by Dad, and to this day, we still use the same methods of capture that he created," Robert wrote in an Instagram post.
But Robert's love for nature didn't end there. He also developed a passion for wildlife photography:
When I was about 6-years-old I started taking photos on a little point-and-shoot camera. From there, my love of photography developed and now I take my camera gear with me everywhere.
Robert and Bindi's love for wildlife conservation would have made their father incredibly proud. In a past interview, he tearfully expressed that he would be extremely proud to one day step aside to let his children carry on his work at the Australia Zoo and in wildlife conservation.
THE IRWIN CHILDREN ARE ALL GROWN UP
While Robert got down and dirty in wildlife conservation and photography, his sister Bindi worked as the CEO of the Australia Zoo alongside her mother, Terri, who was the zoo's chairperson.
Bindi was also in a loving relationship with Chandler Powell. They met in 2013 while Chandler was on a trip to Australia for a national wakeboarding competition. He decided to visit the Australia Zoo, and Bindi happened to be giving the zoo tour for that day.
Chandler Powell and Bindi Irwin attend the Steve Irwin Gala Dinner at SLS Hotel on May 04, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
Chandler was immediately enamored with Bindi. Chandler decided to be a chivalrous gentleman and send a letter to Bindi's mother asking if he could keep in contact with Bindi. This old-fashioned gesture won her heart.
Chandler showed his commitment to his relationship with Bindi when he gave up his wakeboarding profession to work with the Irwin family at the Australia Zoo. in 2019, Chandler popped the big question on Bindi's birthday, July 24, and she said yes!
BINDI AND CHANDLER'S WEDDING
Although the couple had planned to invite 200 people to their big day, the coronavirus pandemic halted their plans, and they decided to get married at the Australia Zoo with many animals and only three other people in attendance; Terri, Robert, and Steve best friend, Wes Mannion.
Bindi decided to have her wedding dress designed to mimic the dress her mother wore to marry Steve in 1992:
“When I was about 12 years old, I put on mum’s wedding dress and it was a really, really special… it’s over 50 years old because it’s been in the family for that long.”
In addition to honoring her mother through her wedding dress, Bindi and Chandler honored Steve's memory by including a portrait of him during the ceremony. They even lit a candle in memory of him. "…it really felt like he was there with us. It was a lovely moment of peace and happiness," Bindi said.
As fate would have it, Chandler and Bindi welcomed their baby girl, Grace Warrior Irwin Powell, on the day of the couple's first wedding anniversary. "Celebrating the two loves of my life. Happy first wedding anniversary to my sweetheart husband and day of birth to our beautiful daughter," Bindi wrote on Instagram.
STEVE'S MEMORY LIVES ON
Even though it has been many years since Steve died, his daughter Bindi still brokenheartedly remembered him. She recalled watching an old video of Steve petitioning against the harvesting of crocodile eggs. Although she had seen that video many times, she began to cry.
She also said that losing her dad was like losing a part of her heart, which is impossible to forget: "I remember people coming up to me and saying, 'I'm sorry for your loss, sweetheart. Time heals all wounds. But that's just not true. It's like losing a part of your heart, and when you've lost that, you never get it back."
Robert and Bindi both look up to their father. "Through a lifetime captured on camera and stories from my family and those who knew him best, I'm able to remember the special times with dad," Robert said.
Robert and Bindi described Steve as a hero. They both felt blessed to continue the work he began and hope that their children can do the same.