Who Is Bindi Irwin's Mom, Terri?

We know Bindi Irwin as the daughter of the late Steve Irwin, the beloved Australian environmentalist, zookeeper, and television personality. But who is Bindi's mother? Her name is Terri, and along with Steve, they helped pave the way for their daughter and all she's accomplished today. 

Terri Irwin is an American-born Australian conservationist, zookeeper, environmentalist, television personality, and author. Terri and Steve rose to fame in the late '90s and early 2000s while hosting the television series "The Crocodile Hunter," along with its multiple spin-offs. The couple's two kids, Bindi and Robert, who we all saw grow up on television, now help their mother in running their father's legacy: the Australia Zoo in Queensland.

While Terri is most known as the widow of "The Crocodile Hunter," she is so much more than that. An expert in conservation and rehabilitation of reptiles, Terri also funds research on humpback whales, and campaigns to prevent bauxite strip mining in Australia. A proud mother and grandmother, she is the recipient of multiple awards including, InStyle Australia's Women of Style Environmental Award. She was also nominated for the Australian of the Year Award in 2014. Read on to learn more details about the iconic woman.

Terri Irwin's love for wildlife was inculcated during her childhood

Terri Irwin was born in Eugene, Oregon, USA. This was where her love for nature and its fauna was cultivated. In an interview given to Eugene Magazine, Terri revealed that she and her friends were "truly free-range kids." "Summers were spent bicycling around Alton Baker Park or hiking up Spencer Butte in the hopes of catching a glimpse of one of the shy rattlesnakes that sought refuge in the rock escarpments. Winters were spent hoping the Willamette Valley would get snow," she shared, delving into details about her colorful childhood days.

Terri also said that it was her father who inculcated the early lessons of wildlife conservation in her. In the interview, she shared that her father used to drive heavy haul trucks would bring home injured animals from the roads he traveled and nurse them back to health. This instilled her dedication toward rehabilitating injured and endangered animals, which she still carries within her. "He taught me that taking the time to help another living being was essential. We would rehabilitate the hapless animal until it was fit to return to the wild. I really think that this led me to one day run wildlife conservation projects around the world," she explained.

She started her conservationist career as a veterinary technician

With a strong passion for helping injured animals since her childhood, Terri Irwin started her conservationist career as a veterinary technician. In 1984, at the age of 20, Terri took over the family business, while still working part-time at a veterinary clinic. In 1988, she began working at her local emergency veterinary hospital. It was also around this time that she started her first wildlife conservation and rehabilitation organization, Cougar Country. The organization was focused on preserving the wildlife of Oregon. The main objective of the center was to rehabilitate predatory mammals like cougars, bears, and bobcats before releasing them into the wild.

When Terri moved to Australia after her marriage to Steve Irwin (more on that next), her cougar, Malina, was taken in by Wildlife Images, a conservation charity that helps wildlife in need. (via Wildlife Warriors). This organization currently treats over 1,200 animals every year, ranging from owls and squirrels, to skunks and cougars.

It was love at first sight for Terri and Steve Irwin

At the age of 27, Terri met the love of her life, Steve Irwin, during a vacation in Australia. When Terri visited Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, she saw a young Irwin in khakis, enthusiastically sharing his knowledge about crocodiles. She was fascinated by his passion and the two bonded over their mutual love for wildlife and conservation, and they fell in love. The duo get married on June 4, 1992. After their wedding, Terri left Oregon and moved to Australia to start her life with Steve.

In 2018, Terri shared that she hasn't been on a date since her husband's death. "There's always a potential to find love again and that's a really beautiful thing ... I'm personally not looking," she shared. "For 27 years, I haven't been out on a date. So I had my happily ever after. So I am doing okay." She also said that if she hadn't met Steve, she probably wouldn't have even gotten married (via People).

Steve and Terri filmed their first television documentary during their honeymoon

After Terri moved to Australia right after their wedding, the duo didn't waste much time before beginning their life. "Terri and Steve immediately began their life together with wildlife documentary filming, an amazing zoo, and later two incredible children, along with a stack of adventures," says the website of the Australia Zoo. The debut video of their award-winning documentary series, "The Crocodile Hunter" was filmed during the couple's honeymoon, which they spent in Far North Queensland with reptiles (via 9News).

In the interview with 9News, Steve Irwin's friend, John Stainton, who filmed this episode and also the tragic death of the icon, shared many details about Terri's experience of shooting the episode, "It was the first time Terri had encountered catching a crocodile. Steve had been doing it for years." He continued, "For a young girl from America, she did amazingly well to able to jump on a croc, hold the croc, and all the things she did."

She had some differences with father-in-law Bob Irwin, who quit the Australia Zoo

According to Perth Now, what they call "the great Irwin family fallout" started in 2008 when Bob Irwin, Steve Irwin's father, who founded the Australia Zoo in the '70s, quit the organization. Reportedly, this decision was mainly because he did not see eye-to-eye with Terri's future plans for the zoo after her husband's accidental death. The concern was that Terri's plans would make the zoo too much of a tourist attraction with "a Disneyland feel." 

"It's a strange feeling to spend half your lifetime building something up and walking away from it. I was becoming a disrupting influence, not that I meant to be," Bob Irwin said in an interview at the time (via The Age). Addressing the fallout drama then, Terri told the reporters that she loved Bob dearly and that he was grieving, "I just can assure everyone that I love Bob dearly ... he's gone through so much grief losing his (first) wife and his only son that I will respectfully just leave it at that."

She holds an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Queensland

In 2015, Terri Irwin was recognized by the University of Queensland for her work with an honorary Doctor of Science degree (via Brisbane Times). During her award acceptance speech, she said, "There are so many people who are studying and graduating today who are going to be top in their fields, so to be counted among them as someone who's contributed to science and really wanted to make a difference is wonderful."

University of Queensland Professor Max Lu revealed at the time that Terri had given students and researchers from the university access to the Australia Zoo. He said it provivded "physical, intellectual, and financial resources that would otherwise be beyond their reach." Professor Lu also noted that over the past decade, Australia Zoo has invested more than $3 million in the university's research and that Terri Irwin has been involved with the university for more than two decades by giving lectures about reptiles to veterinary students.

She became an Australian citizen to honor her late husband

Although Terri has been calling Australia her home for more than two decades, it was on November 15, 2009, that she officially became an Australian citizen. To make it even more special, Terri's pledge of allegiance to her husband's native country was on Steve Irwin Day. "I feel like I just got married," she said after being naturalized in front of hundreds of Steve Irwin fans who were at the Australia Zoo's Crocoseum to celebrate the day dedicated to their icon. The year was also the 60th anniversary of Australian citizenship. Following her oath, she was presented with a specially minted one-dollar coin, and her kids, Bindi and Robert, sang a rendition of the national anthem (via YouTube).

Since 2007, the date of November 15 has been celebrated as Steve Irwin Day as a tribute to his life and legacy. Why that date? It was the birthday of Steve's favorite animal, a Galapagos tortoise named Harriet.

She has a spider named after her

In 2014, a spider was discovered by scientists at the Queensland Museum in the state's Mount Aberdeen region and was named after Terri. The brown and white-striped member of the arachnid family was named Leichhardteus terriirwinae by Dr. Barbara Baehr and Dr. Robert Raven, who found the new species. According to the scientists, the logic behind the name is attributed to the fact that the spider is fast-moving just like its namesake, who is a "fast and straight-thinking woman" (via SBS News). This spider was among the 104 species of spiders the Queensland Museum discovered that year.

Terri Irwin is not the only member of the Irwin family who has been honored by the scientific world with the Latin name of a species. The first to get the Irwin family name was a new species of turtle Steve Irwin discovered in 1997. This species was named Elseva irwini by him. In 2009, a species of snail was named Crikey steveirwini in the icon's honor.

She funds conservation projects and research on humpback whales

While Terri is probably most known for her expertise in reptiles, they are not the only fauna she is passionate about. In 2008, Terri signed an agreement with the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University to fund multiple projects dedicated to furthering research on humpback whales. "Steve was very passionate about whales," said Terri on the collaboration. "They are extraordinary creatures, and it is so important that we do everything we can to save them." She continued, "Learning about whales is part of a bigger picture. Our oceans are in jeopardy and the more research we gather about whales, the more knowledge we have to help us save, protect and preserve our delicate oceans." (via Oregon Live). In her memoir, "Steve & Me", Terri writes, "Whales are like elephants of the sea. They have family structures, mannerisms, and habits that are similar to our own" (via Goodreads).

Bruce Mate, director of the institute, clarified that Terri is against harvesting whales for scientific purposes and that the projects intend on gathering relevant information without harming or killing the animals. The project's aim was to tag a little-studied population of humpback whales in the eastern end of the Aleutian Island chain and study both their socializing and migration tendencies in regards to feeding and breeding areas.

Her autobiography is titled Steve & Me

Terri Irwin's memoir titled "Steve & Me" was published in 2008. In the book, she recounts the unforgettable adventures he shared with her beloved husband. "'Steve & Me' is a nonstop adventure, a real-life love story, and a fitting tribute to a man adored by all those whose lives he touched, written by the woman who knew and loved him best of all," reads the overview of the title on Barnes & Noble. "With grace, wit, and candor, Terri Irwin portrays her husband as he really was — a devoted family man, a fervently dedicated environmentalist, a modest bloke who spoke to millions on behalf of those who could not speak for themselves."

In the book, Terri shares her motivation behind following Steve's dreams, "When your hero dies, everything he stood for does not end. Everything he stood for must continue." One of the most touching yet witty parts of the memoir is how they decided to have kids. Terri shares that it was a sudden moment of clarity that Steve had. Steve wanted their kids to carry on with their work. When she mentioned that there is no guarantee their kids are gonna end up like them, Steve reassured her saying any kid of theirs was going to be a wildlife warrior (via Goodreads). As it turns out, Steve was right.