July 2005

Cute As A Croc

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Crocs are smarter than we think

New Idea, 30 July 2005


News Source: New Idea , page 18-19, 30 July 2005
By Julie Hayne
Pictures by Sandra Priestly

Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin presents his pride and joy - his gorgeous kids.

With a zoo housing more than a thousand animals, ranging from magnificent Sumatran tigers to cuddly wombats, gorgeous Bob and Bindi Irwin had no trouble finding props to model their new clothing range exclusively for New Idea.

Taking rare time out in their hectic schedules, both Steve and Terri Irwin joined the shoot and opened up about their extraordinary life, their love for their children and plans for the future.

As Steve looks on with a watchful eye, seven-year-old Bindi casually drapes a python around her shoulders to model the latest gear in her Bindi Wear range. It's clear Steve couldn't be prouder of the girl he refers to as "my reason for being".

"Bindi is the reason I was put on this earth. All I want to do is be with her and all she wants to do is be with me. We have such a great time together and it's not just a father and daughter relationship, it's also like I'm a big brother and she's my little sister", he enthuses.

While a film crew waits for Steve's attention on an upcoming project, it's clear this khaki-clad, doting dad isn't going anywhere while the subject remains on his children.

"Bindi and I cherish every moment together and when I go away to places I can't take her to, because of the threat of disease or whatever, we both cry", he says.

"It's impossible for me to be away from her for too long, so Terri gave me laminated photos of Bindi and I've got to admit I've shed a few tears when I pull them out and I'm a long way from home".

The 43-year-old's gaze then turns to the little fair-haired boy running amok among the grass and shrub.

"Oh, that's just 'action man'", says Steve referring to his son Robert, dubbed "Baby Bob" by the media after his dad took him into the zoo's crocodile enclosure.

The ensuing negative coverage cut Steve to the quick, but he says he's moved forward since then.

"Crocs are his favourite thing to wrestle and you can tell the press that because I really don't care", he adds.

At this outburst, 41-year-old Teri - who married Steve 13 years ago after visiting the zoo as a tourist - interrupts.

"When we are doing croc research, the crocs are restrained then Robert gets to come up and see them", she explains.

But Steve adds: "Bob is just wrestling the croc in his own little 18-month-old mind and I just can't be worried all the time about what people think".

Such is Steve's dedication to his kids, it's easy to believe you'd have to swim a crocodile-infested pond and get past him before harm could come to them.

"Bob is exactly what I thought he'd be before he was born. He's flat out like a lizard drinking and amazing and so much fun", Steve explains.

"Me and Bindi and Bob are just the best of mates. Just this morning Bob woke up are 1am, so I tossed him in bed with me on one side and Bindi, who had also wandered in, on the other side so he couldn't fall out. When we woke up we had an absolute riot and just tore the place apart", Steve laughs.

As he talks about his children, Terri, who ran a wildlife rehabilitation facility in the US before they met, looks on.

"Oh, I've talked about my kids, but then there's my wife", Steve whistles. "She's drop-dead gorgeous and the best mum in the world and if I'm jumping crocs, she's jumping crocs or if I'm jumping off a mountain then she's right there beside me. The only thing she won't do with me is surfing, but I'm working on it".

"He has to say that because he knows I'm learning martial arts!", Terri interjects.

Both Terri and Steve spend a few hours every day on personal training because, as Steve says: "You can't jump on a croc's back without being extremely fit".

And their zoo houses a complete gym and a dojo for their martial arts training.

Ask Steve what he's going to do when Bindi's first boyfriend pulls up and he's quick to answer. 'If he can swim across the croc pond first then they might have a chance to take her to a movie, but I'll be going with them and that won't be until she is at least 31,' he laughs.

On a more serious note, he adds: Terri and I were working in Fiji a few years ago when we didn't have children and we didn't want any. Then a man came up to us like and said: 'A couple without children is like an orange tree without fruit'.

"He was so right and I wish I hadn't taken so long to get it. I'm a lucky man and not a day goes by when I don't remember that.'