The world has erupted over Bindi Irwin’s engagement news, but who is the lucky American lad who is set to wed Australia’s sweetheart?
22-year-old Chandler Powell has been Bindi’s boyfriend for six years and popped the question on her 21st birthday which fell yesterday.
What many don’t realise is that the dapper couple first met exactly where he asked her to spend the rest of her life with him - at Australia Zoo, after Bindi gave Chandler and his family a tour.
Funnily enough, the adorable moment - and first baby steps at flirtation between the pair - are captured in a heart-melting Instagram post from the exact day they first saw each other.
The first steps towards Bindi Irwin’s boyfriend
In his first ever Instagram post, Bindi’s betrothed posted a shot with his future wife, thanking her for showing him around the zoo that would eventually become his home.
“Spent yesterday at the Australia Zoo along with Bindi Irwin and staff!” a stoked 16-year-old Chandler posted alongside a snap of the pair way back in 2013.
“One of the most educational and inspirational experiences I've ever been a part of. Thanks for making it so amazing!”
Making it even more adorable is the reply the US teen got from Steve Irwin’s daughter.
“Thanks so much for coming. It was wonderful to meet you and your fantastic family,” the clearly smitten 14-year-old Bindi replied. “Good luck in your comp.”
Not willing to let sleeping dogs lie, the keen Chandler shot back another message to keep the spark alive.
“Thanks for having us there! It was so awesome being shown around by y'all!” he responded.
Best of all was teenage Chandler’s sign off.
“Definitely want to come back,” he wrote.
As one fan teasingly pointed out in response to the comment five years later, he definitely went back.
A later post from the visiting American even got the family tick of approval early on.
“Great you could visit and meet some of our awesome animals, Chandler!” a comment from the official Australia Zoo page read.
So who is this Chandler Powell, and how did he steal Bindi Irwin’s heart?
Putting Bindi first
An avid wakeboarder, Chandler competed professionally back when he and Bindi first crossed paths, and was actually stopping in Australia as part of the World Series competition.
Speaking to People TV last year, Chandler said the pair hit it off ‘straight away’, but despite the sweet Instagram communication he didn’t slide into her DMs.
The pair told Entertainment Tonight back 2016 that Chandler sent a letter to Bindi’s mum Terri to ask permission to keep communicating with Bindi who was only 14 at the time.
He has even given up dreams to make the relationship, which was long distance for years, work out.
He left his wakeboarding behind, and now works alongside his love Bindi and her family at Australia Zoo where he participates in the live shows, and even wrestles crocodiles like Steve used to.
He’s proven himself more than game for life at the zoo, getting up close and personal with anything the ‘wildlife warriors’ have to throw at him.
He’s ticking boxes of approval left, right and centre with Bindi’s mum Terri and brother Bob, both huge fans of their future son- and brother-in-law.
He’s even a close friend - and lookalike - of Bindi’s BFF Luke Revely.
A home-grown Florida boy
Chandler hails from Florida where he attended university and lived with his mum Shannan, dad Chris, and brother Cameron.
A quick look through Instagram confirms dad Chris in particular was a huge supporter of Chandler’s wakeboarding dreams and his pursuit of Bindi, who was on the other side of the world.
A down-to-earth, regular family, the clan is clearly thrilled with their future daughter-in-law and have regularly posted their support for her from her stint on the US Dancing with the Stars back in 2016, to the couple’s big news this week.
The family even popped by Bindi and Chandler’s workplace for a visit to meet the other half of the family.
If the wholesome snaps are anything to go by, the two families couldn’t have hit it off quicker.
Remembering Steve Irwin
Chandler has also opened up on Instagram about his longtime admiration for his fiancée’s late dad, who he seems to be emulating with his work at the zoo.
An alumni of Florida University, Chandler put an eco-friendly ring on it, just to prove he knows Bindi inside and out - if you weren’t already convinced.
He popped the question with a lab-grown diamond which is a sustainable alternative to the traditionally mined rocks which are often embroiled in unethical work practices.
Now set to tie the knot, we’re sure to be getting to know a whole lot more about Chandler Powell, but we’re loving what we know so far.
Bindi took to her Instagram account last night to reveal the surprise engagement on her 21st birthday.
Proud mum, Terri, spoke out about how her late dad Steve would have felt about his baby girl’s announcement.
“Best day ever! Chandler asked and beautiful @BindiIrwin said yes. I am so very happy, and I know Steve would be too. Congratulations!!,” she wrote on Twitter.
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