Less than a year after her famous father died after being stung by a stingray, 8-year-old Bindi Irwin is carrying on Steve Irwin’s work to promote education about the animal world in a series of television documentaries like those that made “The Crocodile Hunter” a household name.
Bindi, who has her father’s eyes and wide smile, said she “feels” her father is with her as she leads a hectic schedule filming programs for Animal Planet and the Discovery Kids Channel.
“I’m having a great time. This is definitely what I want to be doing,” Bindi told TODAY’s Ann Curry during an exclusive interview Tuesday.
Bindi was scheduled to meet later Tuesday, World Environment Day, with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Next week, the Dalai Lama is scheduled to visit Bindi and her mother, Terri Irwin, at the Australia Zoo in Queensland, which Steve Irwin started. “It is very cool,” Bindi cooed.
Terri Irwin said she could not be pleased more that her daughter shares her father’s passion for animals, the planet and conservation and has honed the skills necessary to share that passion with television viewers around the world.
“Steve was so wonderful to bring wildlife into our living rooms and let us see that animals we used to be afraid of are so important ...,” said Terri Irwin. “I think Bindi’s picked up on so much of that growing up as a wildlife warrior and is now willing to stand up and make decisions about the messages she wants to get out. I’m very proud of her.”
To help get her messages out about wildlife conservation, on Saturday the Discovery Kids Channel will begin airing episodes of “Bindi: The Jungle Girl.” Steve Irwin and Bindi began filming the program in early 2006 to help more children become interested in the issue. Steve Irwin appears in some of the early episodes.
And on Friday, Animal Planet presents “My Daddy the Croc Hunter,” in which Bindi, with help from Terri Irwin, relates her personal experiences growing up as the daughter of Steve Irwin.
The special, which Bindi hosts, includes footage captured on Steve Irwin’s last crocodile research excursion in August 2006. It was eleven months later that Steve Irwin was stung in the heart when he apparently accidentally startled a stingray while diving off the coast of his native Australia.
‘Just like us’
For Bindi, filming documentaries is not just fun and games. Extremely articulate for her tender young age, Bindi does not hesitate when asked what she wants to come of her work.
“I just really want to help the animals. They are just like us. They are no different,” she said. “They have different personalities and different outside covers, but still they have the same heart, they have ears, they eyes and they have noses. We shouldn’t be hurting them ... The skins should actually be on the tiger, or like the elephant or something like that. They shouldn’t be bags or belts.”