More than a decade after the death of Steve Irwin, his son, Robert Irwin, is filling his shoes. As the wildlife expert turned 17 on Tuesday, the Australia Zoo gifted him an extra special present, sharing a video with him of his late father. Irwin, better known as the "Crocodile Hunter," died during a diving expedition off the coast of Australia in 2006 when Robert was just 2 years old and his older sister, Bindi, was 8.
Writing that the video "means the world to me," Robert shared the more than minute-long clip, which began with video of his father recounting the day of his birth. Irwin, reflecting on the moment he held his son in his arms for the first time, recalled thinking that "this is why I was put here." As the video continued, Irwin spoke about one day stepping aside to allow his children to take over the conservation work he had tirelessly dedicated his life to, stating that "when they’re ready to run up our mission, I will gladly step aside." As he spoke the words, the video transitioned to clips of Robert filling his father’s shoes as he caught crocodiles, took part in wildlife photography, and helped animals at the zoo. The video ended with Irwin stating, "Then and only then will I know that I have achieved my ultimate goal. My job will be done, and I guarantee you it will be the proudest moment of my life."
Our @AustraliaZoo crew made this beautiful video to celebrate my birthday & it means the world to me ❤️ I’m honoured to continue my dad’s legacy & I hope more than anything that he’d be proud. Thank you for all of your lovely birthday messages - many more adventures yet to come! pic.twitter.com/zwPxIIBwPX— Robert Irwin (@RobertIrwin) December 1, 2020
The Australia Zoo wasn’t the only one to mark the special day. On social media, both Terri and Bindi Irwin paid special tribute to Robert, with Bindi sharing photos of the day she married Chandler Powell. Robert had stepped in to walk his sister down the aisle at the Australia Zoo during the March 2020 ceremony, with Bindi writing in her post that her little brother’s "kind heart and fantastic sense of humour makes my every day."
Bindi went on to look toward the future, writing that her "baby girl is going to love her 'funcle' (fun uncle) so very much." She and Powell are currently expecting their first child together, having announced the news back in August. She ended her tribute by writing, "you're one of the brightest lights the world has ever seen. I'll always be here for you. Love you!" Robert replied by writing that he is "so lucky to be your brother and about to be a funcle."
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On Twitter, Robert's mother, Terri, shared side-by-side photos of a younger Robert and a now 17-year-old Robert in "the hollow tree that was your castle." She wrote, "may the simple things in life always bring you happiness. Every day you make me happy. And proud. And I will love you beyond forever."