Back in 2006, Australian zookeeper and conservationist Steve Irwin tragically passed away at the age of 44 after being attacked by a stingray. But even though Steve is gone, his family has gone the extra mile to continue his legacy and keep his memory alive.
Steve’s daughter, Bindi Irwin, 20, and her 15-year-old brother, Robert, sat down with People to talk about what it has been growing up without their father. Bindi first touches on what it was like when her dad passed. “I remember people coming up to me and saying, ‘I’m sorry for your loss, sweetheart. Time heals all wounds,’” Bindi says. “But that’s just not true. It’s like losing a part of your heart, and when you’ve lost that, you never get it back.” Bindi was just eight-years-old when Steve passed. Her brother just two.
Even though Steve, who was also a fantastic TV personality, has been gone for 12 years, the family continues to spread his message though their conservation nonprofit Wildlife Warriors. The family also currently star on an Animal Planet series titles Crikey! It’s the Irwins. Steve’s wife, 54-year-old Terri Irwin, has expanded the zoo as well.
“I sure hope dad would be proud,” Bindi adds. “We really do try every day to make him proud and follow in his footsteps. I hope that somewhere he’s out there going, ‘Yes! You did good!’” Robert also comments on the family’s next steps. “No matter where we go, or what we do, we’ll always come back here,” Robert says. “This is our passion. It’s a part of us and Australia Zoo will always be home.”
Earlier last month, Terri also spoke about her late husband, telling UK’s Closer magazine, “I always wish Steve was here, but I do feel he’s watching over us.” Terri added, “I have two awesome kids. They’re so passionate about carrying on Steve’s conservation work, I can’t imagine them doing anything else. At first, I’d wish Steve was here and that he could do this better, but now, it’s becoming more special and another way to honor what he has done.”