Stephen Robert Irwin was born to Lyn and Bob Irwin on 22 February, 1962, in upper Fern Tree Gully, Victoria. He moved with his parents and two sisters to Beerwah, Queensland, where his folks opened the Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park in 1970.
Steve grew up loving all wildlife, especially reptiles. He caught his first venomous snake (a Common Brown) at the tender age of six and would often arrive late to school after convincing his mother to pull over so he could rescue a lizard off the road.
By the time he was nine-years-old, he was helping his dad catch small problem crocodiles hanging around boat ramps by jumping on them in the water and wrestling them back into the dinghy. He always had an uncanny sixth sense when it came to wildlife and he spent his life honing that skill.
In the 1980s Steve spent months on end living in the most remote areas of far North Queensland catching problem crocodiles before they ended up shot by a poacher’s bullet. He worked with his little dog, Sui, and developed crocodile capture and management techniques that are now utilised with crocodilians around the world.
By 1980, the family wildlife park was called the ‘Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park’ and where Steve called home. Steve and his best mate, Wes Mannion, worked countless hours caring for the wildlife and maintaining the grounds.
In 1991 Steve took over managing the wildlife park and met Terri Rains, a visiting tourist, on 6 October. Steve and Terri were married in Eugene, Oregon, on 4 June 1992 at the Methodist church Terri’s grandmother used to attend.
Instead of a honeymoon, the couple embarked on filming a wildlife documentary with John Stainton from the ‘Best Picture Show’ company. The show was so successful it turned into a series and the Crocodile Hunter was born.
After Steve’s parents retired in the 1992 Steve worked tirelessly to improve and expand his wildlife park. Re-naming it Australia Zoo in 1998, Steve’s vision for the world’s best Zoo was coming to fruition. In July 2006 Steve set out his ten year business plan for his beloved zoo. He couldn’t know he would be gone just two months later, but he believed his conservation work would go on. His two beautiful children will make sure it does.