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Robert Irwin welcomes extremely rare turtle discovered by his dad into the zoo

Kit Roberts

| Last updated 

Robert Irwin has welcomed an extremely rare species of turtle to Australia Zoo.

Being the son of Steve Irwin, one of the most celebrated conservationists, gives you a lot to live up to, but both Robert and Bindi Irwin are continuing his good work.

And the latest feature to grace the family's zoo was a very rare turtle - whose species were named after Steve Irwin, who first discovered them back in 1990 along with his father, Bob Irwin.

The 'Irwin's Turtle', or Elseya irwini, is a freshwater species which is native to Australia.

Robert Irwin with the Irwin's turtle. Credit: TikTok / robertirwin
Robert Irwin with the Irwin's turtle. Credit: TikTok / robertirwin

According to the National Aquarium, the species is largely found in the upstreams of Broken and Bowen rivers, which are smaller rivers that run to the Burdekin River in Queensland.

Their population is estimated to be 4,000 to 5,000 turtles.

They are herbivores but can also eat snails and fish, while females can be completely herbivorous.


And just like other turtles, they use their bum, or cloaca to be fancy, to breathe underwater.

However, not much is known about this species because there isn't enough data about them.

Robert explained in his TikTok video that his father 'knew there was something different about them', and 'sure enough it was a brand new species'.

"For many years we've wanted to have them here at Australia Zoo, and finally we can say we've got them." he said.

Robert's father, Steve Irwin, first discovered the turtle back in 1990. Credit: TikTok/@robertirwin
Robert's father, Steve Irwin, first discovered the turtle back in 1990. Credit: TikTok/@robertirwin

"We've actually rescued several Irwin's Turtles. There's simply not enough data known about them to classify them as an endangered species, because they're so incredibly rare.

"But what we do know is that they're very much at the mercy of human-created threats. Things like dams, mining, pollution, habitat degradation."

He added: "They only exist in very isolated pockets, so if anything were to happen to these waterways it would be game over for the entire species, which is why it's so incredibly important to have a population here at Australia Zoo to ensure that this species can survive on for generations to come."


It's very difficult to sample Irwin's turtles, as they often lives in places that are difficult to access for a variety of reasons, with one of those being remoteness.

Another reason is that it can also be dangerous to get to the turtles as the waters where they live are often also inhabited by saltwater crocodiles.

You don't want to jump into some water looking for a turtle only to be greeted by something much bigger, and with far more teeth.

Topics: Australia, Bindi Irwin, Robert Irwin, Steve Irwin, Animals

Kit Roberts
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