​The Irwin Family On Why It’s Not Just The ‘Cute and Cuddly’ Creatures We Should Be Saving

The Irwins are known worldwide as the peppy poster family for conservation.

Having overcome the pain of losing patriarch Steve - 'the crocodile hunter' - who sadly passed away in 2006 after a fatal sting from a stingray - they are channelling every ounce of their energy into continuing his legacy.

But while it's easy to dismiss them as the all-smiles Brady Bunch of the animal kingdom (matching khaki and all - which they say is a 'lifestyle, not a colour'), wife Terri, daughter Bindi and son Robert are clearly keen to prove that paying tribute to Steve's work must go much, much further than posing on TV with fluffy animals.

The Irwins attending the ceremony for Steve Irwin's posthumous star on the The Hollywood Walk Of Fame Credit: PA
The Irwins attending the ceremony for Steve Irwin's posthumous star on the The Hollywood Walk Of Fame Credit: PA

"I think now, even more so than when Dad was around, our wildlife is really being depleted as such an incredibly rapid rate," Robert, 14, told LADbible.

"I think it's so important that we can learn to love and respect all animals and natural places, not just the cute and cuddly creatures.

"There's always a call for koala conservation or animals that are very lovable, but things like crocodiles - the animals that you don't really want to go up to and just cuddle - aren't really in the forefront of people's minds."

That's a sentiment shared by the rest of the family, who are used to focusing their efforts on apex predators - larger animals such as crocodiles, bears and big cats like tigers or lions.

"With our work with Australia Zoo and our non-profit organisation Wildlife Warriors, every single day of our lives is spent continuing Dad's legacy and making sure that everything he lived for and worked so hard for carries on into the future," 20-year-old Bindi explained.

"At Wildlife Warriors, we have conservation projects all over the world where we help rhinos and cheetahs in Africa or tigers in Sumatra. We have a wildlife hospital that rescues and rehabilitates over 77,000 sick, injured and orphaned native Australian animals."

Steve Irwin's Children - Bindi and Robert. Credit: PA
Steve Irwin's Children - Bindi and Robert. Credit: PA

Terri, 54, added: "All of those kinds of animals are really the most important to conserve, but unfortunately they are often the most prized in poaching, so that's very tough.

"These apex predators are very important to conserve because they're like the roof of your house - if you remove the apex predator, every other creature underneath them is affected."

Research projects the Irwins are involved with involve crocodiles in northern Queensland, Australia and a Sumatran tiger protection programme, where teams dismantle illegal traps and find poachers.

But everyone can play their part, according to Terri. You don't have to have Irwin-sized resources.

"All of us have time and all of us have money - and of course that's to varying degrees for each and every person, and we're really enthusiastic about people getting involved to their best ability," she told us.

'The Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin with Terri and Bindi. Credit: PA
'The Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin with Terri and Bindi. Credit: PA

"In other words, you don't have to dedicate your life to writing songs and making that your career just because you love music, you can still love music. And you don't have to be on MasterChef just because you like to eat nice food; you don't have to be a top chef to enjoy a beautiful meal.

"And it's the same with conservation, You don't have to dedicate your entire life to make really positive change, so if you've got time, you can do little things - recycle, turn off the lights when you leave a room, turn off the tap when you brush your teeth, that sort of thing really helps.

"And if you can volunteer in your local community, you can do something to help - if there's a clean-up-the-park day or plant-a-tree-day - and then all of us have funds we can put towards things that are so important."

If Steve were still alive today, the family thinks he would just want us to respect and love all of Earth's animals - and the best way to do that, of course, is to simply roll those sleeves up get involved in whatever way you can.

"I think that that message is so important now," Robert said. "The younger generations are the people that are really going to be making a difference in the future."

Crikey! It's the Irwins airs Sundays at 8pm on Animal Planet.

Extinct: A race against time to save our endangered species. Read more from our campaign here.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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