Strong Sense of Steve's Presence; after Meeting with the Irwins Kathy Sundstrom Is Impressed by Their Resilience

Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia), November 16, 2013 | Go to article overview

Strong Sense of Steve's Presence; after Meeting with the Irwins Kathy Sundstrom Is Impressed by Their Resilience


YOU know the Irwins have arrived for your interview long before you see them.

There is a frenetic hustle among the tourists at the zoo.

All eyes turn away from trying to get a glimpse of the new baby giraffe in search of the zoo's real stars: Terri, Bindi and Robert.

The celebrity trio always appears gracious and at ease with the crowds vying for a photograph, an autograph, or just a glimpse of the Sunshine Coast's, and possibly Australia's, most famous family.

Terri says "hello" to everyone enthusiastically. She meets your eyes and even though she has been interviewed by hundreds of people across the world, she seems genuinely interested.

It's not long before Bindi launches on to one of her favourite topics.

She talks quickly and is animated.

It's hard to believe she is a 15-year-old teenager.

Robert, when he can get a word in, is the same. His eyes light up as he talks about one of the zoo's new animals, or the plans for the Madagascar enclosure with its lemurs and, possibly one day, his favourite creature: chameleons.

Sometimes you feel as if their conversation is carefully scripted.

It is so polished and enthusiastic.

Everything the Irwins say gets a message across, whether it is about conservation, the zoo's projects or how to deal with grief.

The children obviously have inherited Steve's unquenchable enthusiasm for anything that moves.

You can almost imagine Steve smiling down from heaven and saying, "Crikey, they're amazing."

While there is no doubt life has been tough since they lost their father in 2006, both children are quick to talk about the positives and their love for each other.

They're smart, too. Robert, who turned 10 on November 1, is already in Year 6, two years ahead of his peers. Bindi, who should be in Year 10, is already studying a TAFE course in business and tourism.

The Irwins were giving media interviews ahead of Steve Irwin Day yesterday.

It's hard to believe it's been more than seven years since Steve died in Far North Queensland after being pierced by a stingray barb on September 4.

For this interview, the Irwins proudly show off the zoo's newest additions, Sky, the six-week-old baby giraffe and the two, as yet unnamed, 13-week-old tiger cubs.

Terri whips out her iPhone and shows the video of Sky being born while Bindi recounts how she was called out of a maths test to watch the moment.

Bindi also quickly launches into their plans for next year, including opening "Australia and possibly the world's first-ever zebra experience" and how two more giraffes are expecting babies.

Robert explains how, in the African savannah, zebras "look like hamburgers" to lions and are very scared animals.

This is why the zebra encounters are so special. Getting close to these "horses in pyjamas" is a rare treat the zoo has worked hard to develop.

"We've been working at this for two years," Terri says.

"I don't know any other zebra which would allow it."

The young Irwins have a quirky sense of humour, whether it's talking about how they have the only mum who "jumps on crocodiles" or how Robert often steals carrot sticks meant for the animals. …

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