Bindi Irwin, wildlife warrior on a whirlwind journey to spread the message of living with a conscience, is a world-changer, evolutionary, old soul – all this, at the ripe old age of 14.
She may be only in her teens, but there is no mistaking her presence. Whether she is talking about the importance of giving a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves, or living well and with regard for the environment, her message is strong and not to be dismissed.
Blue-eyed, blonde and with a smile that lights up the room, she could just as easily be your girl-next-door out with friends, talking about fashion and eschewing boys with cooties. But somehow, in person, you see that while she has a childlike quality about her still, she is also older than her years. This comes across when she speaks about the causes closest to her heart.
Caring for animals and the environment – that is her bag, in a nutshell. Aside from being your average teen, she is clearly leading the pack when it comes to taking the reins and changing the world, one good deed at a time.
Daughter of the original wildlife warrior, Steve Irwin (who perished when a stingray pierced him in the chest with its tail spine in 2006 during filming), Bindi is carrying on his legacy – and there is no doubt her father would be proud.
In town last month for a series of events to launch her latest projects with the Discovery Channel, she spoke candidly about the need to make a difference, and the potential that everyone has to do just that.
She shares, with conviction, “I’m a great believer in conservation, kid-empowerment and all things to do with wildlife. So these programmes are something that I’m really passionate and excited about. It’s very special – and what a unique position to be in, to be able to share your passion with such a wide audience. How nice is that?"
"We literally live right in the middle of the Australia zoo, and that is really wonderful in itself. But it’s also great because anyone who comes to visit us gets to experience a family of animals and keepers, and really take something with them. They end up having a greater appreciation of wildlife – and that’s what it’s all about, for me,” she added.
Accompanied by mum Terri and 8-year-old brother Robert, the Irwin's family's passion sucks you in. Whether they are talking about sustainable consumption of wildlife or environmentalism, this is their mandate.
If you feel the need to talk about dinosaurs, well, Robert is your man then. He is a paleontologist in the making, and lights up when talking about dinosaurs -- but he also shares the fundamental thread that binds this family together: a love for the environment and caring for it.
“Kids really want to have a say and want to change the world – they want to do something really, really big! And it’s actually not that hard to do something like that. Something that’s really simple is just planting a tree, or even turning off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth. Even the little, tiny things can actually change the world! So, it’s really important to start saying to kids, you know, you can change the world and it is possible."
Working with the Discovery Channel, the trio are promoting two Discovery Kids programmes: Bindi’s Bootcamp: Reboot (an adventure game show) and Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors.
Both are set in Queensland, with the Australia Zoo as a backdrop. The two series will take you through exciting and unexpected developments, which are all in a day’s work when it comes to running a zoo. With the programmes, you get an unfettered peek behind the curtains and into the landscape of living with wildlife, and all that it really entails.
For mum Terri, the work the family does to spread their message of environmental awareness has a very real place in society today. She says while it is important for her children to enjoy being kids and having fun, she is also there to support their passion to bring about long-lasting change on their chosen fronts.
“What I think is interesting, with a lot of the kids that I meet today, is that the opposite problem exists. When I was about five years old, I admired my parents and the family business. When I became an adult, I carried on my family’s business. When I find kids who don’t have goals, or parents to help them follow through with their goals, I find kids who are kind of lost – within themselves, within their family, within society.”
Terri talks about achieving the balance between fun and purpose, saying it is an effort that requires constant attention.
"Most of my friends reached university-age not really knowing what they were going to do with life. It’s not that that’s a bad thing. But if you can have your parents help you find direction and your passion, and encourage it, that is so important. I think it’s very important that kids get to be kids, and that parents guide that. There’s times when it’s fun to unload and void your mind and play a video game. But it’s also fun to help your kids get out into the gardens, and remember nature, and help guide and direct them as well,” she said.
For Bindi Irwin, her focus is clear.
Like so many youngsters today, she wants to make the world a better place and those are her marching orders. No guile, no games, just a whole lot of love and passion for our planet and its inhabitants.
Wearing her heart on her sleeve and putting her passion where her mouth is, Steve Irwin’s daughter is a chip off the old block.
She is leading a movement, and you are welcome to join the revolution.