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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

Your cobras are brilliant: Terri Irwin

Sneha Mahale, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, October 03, 2013
First Published: 14:01 IST(3/10/2013) | Last Updated: 17:49 IST(3/10/2013)

He is remembered for his unusual love for crocodiles, infectious enthusiasm for wildlife conservation, and a bit of nonchalance when it came to danger. Now, the late Steve Irwin’s family — Terri, Bindi and Robert — are taking his conservation efforts forward with the TV show Wildlife Warriors. The 26-episode series that currently airs on weekdays at 9 pm revisits the place the Crocodile Hunter called home — the Australia Zoo in Queensland.

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“The show encompasses not only the Australia Zoo, but our wildlife hospital and rescue unit and the people who are continuing Steve’s legacy,” says Terri, adding that while crocodiles are certainly the icon of the zoo, the show includes many different animals. Terri is joined by her 14-year-old daughter, who feels “blessed to be named after Bindi the crocodile”, and nine-year-old Robert, who has appearances in most of the episodes.

With over 1,200 animals at Australia Zoo, and a hospital that takes in over 7,500 animals a year, there is never a dull moment. Bindi says, “The most memorable experiences were filmed at the wildlife hospital. Releasing animals after spending months treating them is bittersweet. We just released a beautiful koala back into the wild after treating him for a long time, and it was such a special experience to watch him go home.”

The family also has ties with India. An international crocodile rescue unit has been involved in helping with problem crocodiles in India. Terri says, “Sometimes, there can be conflicts between humans and crocodiles. We have helped by moving the problem croc, improving safe access to water, and educating school children. In the future, I’d love to get more involved with helping protect your beautiful gharials. And your cobras are brilliant. Although Bindi, Robert and I have never personally visited India, we would love to.”

‘Koalas know we are helping’
Terri’s favourite species include n We work with both Sumatran and Bengal Tigers. They are so regal and beautiful. I never take them for granted.
Saltwater crocodiles are the largest reptiles on the planet. Being near a crocodile is like spending time with a dinosaur.
Giraffe are so special. Their eyes are incredibly gentle and beautiful, and yet their kick is powerful enough to kill a lion.
The Fierce Snake is the most venomous snake in the world, and it’s not aggressive.
I can't leave out koalas. They are just darlings. Our hospital treats an average of 90 koalas from the wild every month. They seem to know that we are helping them settle down.

‘Steve spoke so highly of India’
Terri admits that her husband’s passion and enthusiasm will remain unmatched for wildlife and places that he loved. She says, “He spoke so highly of India’s wonderful
people and incredible wildlife. The Indian Cobra (or spectacled cobra) was one of Steve's favourites.” Although Terri still can't handle cobras, she says that he managed to instill in her a love for them.

‘Cassowaries are rare birds’
Bindi is most likely to be spotted working with these
Echidnas are my favourite. They are hard to breed.
Ring-tailed lemurs are under threat from habitat destruction in the wild.
Cassowaries are rare Australian birds. Our cassowary at Australia Zoo is sitting on a bunch of bright green eggs right now. We have our fingers crossed that they hatch.
Wombats are the bulldozers of the bush and unique animals.
I love kangaroos. They can be so calm and gentle.

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