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Terri Irwin

Terri Irwin, November 2000.jpg
Irwin at Australia Zoo, 2000
Born
Terri Raines

July 20, 1964 (1964-07-20) (age 56)
Nationality American, Australian
Occupation Naturalist, conservationist, author
Years active 1987–present
Notable work
The Crocodile Hunter
Spouse(s)
Steve Irwin
(m. 1992; died 2006)
Children Bindi Irwin
Robert Irwin

Terri Irwin AM (née Raines; born July 20, 1964) is an American–Australian naturalist, conservationist, author, and the owner of Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland. Born in Oregon, United States, she began working for an independent animal rehabilitation center for injured predator mammals at the age of 22 while working for her family's trucking business.

While touring wildlife rehabilitation facilities in Australia in 1991, she had a chance meeting with naturalist Steve Irwin, whose father founded Australia Zoo. The two married in 1992, and went on to co-star in The Crocodile Hunter, their unconventional television nature documentary series and its spin-off series, Croc Files, The Crocodile Hunter Diaries, and Crikey! It's the Irwins. They had two children, Bindi and Robert, before Steve Irwin's death in 2006 due to a stingray accident. She became a naturalised Australian citizen in 2009.

Early life

Terri Raines was born in Eugene, Oregon, United States, the youngest of three daughters of "environmentalist" parents Clarence and Judy Raines. Commenting on her childhood, she said: "My friends and I 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."

Her family owned a long-haul trucking business and, during her childhood, her father constantly brought home injured animals from the highways on which his trucks travelled; this eventually instilled in her an ongoing commitment to saving and rehabilitating wild animals. While working in the family business in 1986, she started a rehabilitation facility called Cougar Country to re-educate and release predator mammals such as foxes, raccoons, bears, bobcats, and cougars back into the wild. Soon she was handling 300 animals each year.

Career

Irwin joined an emergency veterinary hospital in 1989 as a veterinary technician to gain further knowledge on the care and support to all kinds of animals. Her life was very busy, as she was still helping her father run the family business, rehabilitating animals through her "Cougar Country", and working at the vet hospital. In addition, she had fifteen cats of her own, several birds and a dog.

In 1991, she went on a tour of Australia, and while visiting wildlife rehabilitation facilities, she had a chance meeting with Steve Irwin, whose father had founded the Australia Zoo (as Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park). Steve would later say that "it was love at first sight." A "whirlwind romance" followed: They were engaged after only four months, and eight months later, on June 4, 1992, they married in Eugene, Oregon. Their first television documentary was filmed on their honeymoon. The footage, shot by John Stainton, became the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter, which later became successful in the United States.

The couple settled in Australia shortly after their wedding, Terri leaving her Cougar Country project behind in the United States. However, as a partner in their wildlife enterprises and television shows, she believes she was able to do far greater work on behalf of wildlife conservation.

In addition to their two popular television programs shown on the Animal Planet television network in the United States, in 2002, the Irwins released a feature film, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course.

She, Steve and Bindi appeared in the Wiggles video/DVD release Wiggly Safari in 2002.

The Irwins had two children: daughter Bindi Sue on July 24, 1998, and son Robert Clarence on December 1, 2003.

Personal life

Marriage to Steve Irwin

Steve irwin wes terri
Terri (right) and Steve Irwin (left) with Wes Mannion (centre)

Terri met Steve Irwin in Australia in 1991. The couple married in her home state of Oregon in 1992 before returning to live in Australia. She and her children were reportedly trekking in Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, on the morning of September 4, 2006, when Steve died after sustaining heart injuries from a short-tail stingray barb which pierced his chest. He was filming an underwater documentary at the time at Batt Reef near Port Douglas in Queensland.

In her first statement since her husband's death, Irwin announced the Australian memorial service (on September 20, 2006, at Australia Zoo in Queensland) would be open to the public, and that people who wished to attend should make a donation to Irwin's "Wildlife Warriors" fund. The service was held at the "Crocoseum," a 5,500-seat open-air amphitheater, which Steve built at the zoo and which she chose over any larger facility. She also thanked well-wishers for their "overwhelming outpouring of love, support and prayers for [her] family". Terri herself was seemingly too upset to speak at the ceremony. She remained with her son, Robert, during the proceedings, but daughter Bindi spoke about her love for her father, for which she received a standing ovation.

Robert and Bindi Irwin (6409144037)
Irwin with daughter Bindi and son Robert, 2011

Australian TV network Channel 9 screened an interview between Irwin and local presenter Ray Martin, on September 27, at 8:30pm on the station. During the interview, she said "And I'll make Australia Zoo bigger. I'll make it bigger... because I promised." Barbara Walters held an interview with Irwin on The View, which aired September 27 in the US.

On October 31, 2006, Irwin was invited to the Royal Albert Hall to award a Special Recognition Award to Sir David Attenborough at the British National Television Awards.

In a 2018 interview, Terri told People magazine that she hadn't dated or had a relationship since her husband's death. "There's always the potential to find love again, and that's a beautiful thing...but I had my happily ever after," she said, "[So] I'm doing okay."

Citizenship

Terri, American by birth, became an Australian citizen on November 15, 2009. In a tribute to her husband Steve, the citizenship ceremony was held during the Steve Irwin Day celebrations in Australia Zoo's Crocoseum.

Conservation support

Irwin has expressed support for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and was present at the launching of one of the organization's vessels which was renamed after her husband.

In 2008, she signed on to a three-year research program in correspondence with Australia Zoo supporting the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, funding two US$250,000 research projects on humpback whales. "Learning about whales is part of a bigger picture," she said of the project. "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."

Honours

In 2006, Irwin was made an honorary Member of the Order of Australia for services to wildlife conservation and the tourism industry. (Honorary of the Order of Australia is the appointment rank to non-citizens of Australia; this became a substantive appointment when she became an Australian citizen in 2009.)

Irwin won the 2007 Queensland Telstra Business Women's Award.

She has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Queensland for her work in conservation and support of high-quality research.

In 2014, Irwin was a Queensland finalist for Australian of the Year.

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1997–2004 The Crocodile Hunter Herself Series regular
1999–2001 Croc Files Herself Series regular
2002 The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course Herself Comedy film
2002 The Wiggles: Wiggly Safari Herself
2002–06 The Crocodile Hunter Diaries Herself Series regular
2003–07 Australian Story Herself 2 episodes
2007 My Daddy, the Crocodile Hunter Herself Television documentary
2007 Ocean's Deadliest Herself Television documentary
2011 Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson Herself Documentary film
2017 Kangaroo Herself Documentary film
2018 Crikey! It's the Irwins Herself Series regular
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