2016-06-30
Most eight-year-old girls care more about "Harriet the Spy" than Harriet the sea turtle. But most eight-year-old girls are not the offspring of Steve Irwin, the audacious Australian animal conservationist and TV personality who died Sept. 4 when he was pierced through the heart by a stingray. At a time when viewers of Irwin’s show "The Crocodile Hunter" were reeling with shock, Bindi delivered a eulogy that comforted a grieving community.

"I don’t want Daddy’s passion to ever end," she told a crowd of 5,000 at Irwin’s public memorial at the Australia Zoo. "I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did...When I see a crocodile I will always think of him and I know that Daddy made this zoo so everyone could come and learn to love all the animals. Daddy made this place his whole life and now it’s our turn to help Daddy."

She is nominated as one of this year's most inspiring people for leading by example in a time of great personal trial and for honoring her father by continuing his work in wildlife conservation. Bindi Sue Irwin learned her love of animals while she was still in diapers. At two weeks old, she was on location in Texas for a "Crocodile Hunter" segment on rattlesnakes. As a homeschooler, she had time to be a regular part of the "khaki crew" at the Australia Zoo, pitching in with chores like checking on the skinks and caring for Harriet, a 176-year-old Galapagos sea turtle thought to have been observed by Darwin.

Since her father's death, Bindi has taken up his mantle. She made a fund-raising spot for Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, a charity he founded, and attended a ceremony in his place.  

Bindi is also going on alone with a program that was to have featured her and her dad having outdoor adventures. "Bindi, the Jungle Girl" will debut on Discovery Kids network next year.

Trying to fill her father's sizable safari boots has brought criticism. Some people worry that Bindi is being exploited by adults for monetary gain. In Australia, child psychologists, child rights activists, and Irwin fans seem torn about what is best for Bindi.

But Bindi's father seemed to have addressed that question in an interview featured on Animal Planet in 2004. Steve Irwin said, "Is there anything in this world that would make me give away what I’m doing now? Yes, yes there is. When my children can take the football that I call wildlife conservation and run it up. When they're ready to run up our mission, I will gladly step aside. And I guarantee you it will be the proudest moment of my life. My job will be done."

Read Bindi's eulogy for her father. To learn more about Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, click here.

View 2006 nominees' photo gallery.


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