Robert Irwin and his sister Bindi work hard to carry on the mission of their father, the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, and Robert recently shared an emotional video showing one way that Steve’s work continues.
In an Instagram post, the 19-year-old announced that Australia Zoo has welcomed a hatchling of the elseya irwini, or Irwin’s turtle, a rare species that was discovered by Steve on the Burdekin River in Queensland in 1990. This marks the first time the animal has been bred in captivity.
Robert said, “This is one of the highlights of my entire life and one of the most special moments ever for Australia Zoo. This is the very first elseya irwini, Irwin’s turtle, ever hatched for any zoological facility anywhere in the world. This species is a turtle that Dad originally discovered out in the wild, and for the first time, we’ve got a little baby.”
He then let the hatchling out for his first swim in a brand-new pond.
As he watched the little guy swim, Robert got a bit choked up, saying, “It’s just so surreal, and all the stories from Dad about just how amazing and beautiful they are. I don’t get emotional that much… Dad would be stoked.”
According to the Wildlife Warriors website, Irwin’s turtles have a specialized habitat that requires fresh oxygenated water so they can breathe, and they’re susceptible to habitat degradation. A dam constructed on the river where the species was discovered by Steve 30 years ago is thought to be playing a role in its decline.
Australia Zoo and Wildlife Warriors have been working together to establish an “insurance population” that they plan to release back into the wild in the future.
In addition to this development, Robert often shares content honoring his father, including an interview in which Steve said there was one thing that could make him give up what he was doing: “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.”
It looks like his kids are doing what they can to follow through on that dream.
You can follow more of Robert’s conservation work on his Instagram.