From croc hunter kid to media darling

Robert Irwin is threatening legal action over an episode of Pauline Hanson’s cartoon. Picture: NewsWire/Tertius Pickard.

Robert Irwin has been in the public eye since he was an infant thanks to his famous father, Steve Irwin.

Robert, now 20, is the youngest child of Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” and Terri Irwin, joining elder sister Bindi to complete one of Australia’s most recognised families.

As a one month old, Robert got his first taste of fame when his dad held him in his arms while feeding a crocodile at Australia Zoo.

But when he was just two years old, tragedy struck.

In the years after his father’s death, the toddler was always referred to in reference to his father, being met with questions about the Australian icon from anyone who came across the youngster.

Robert himself has admitted he thinks about his father every day, telling media losing a “commanding presence of positivity and everything that is good in the world” at such a young age makes you question everything.

The latest episode of Pauline Hanson's Please Explain cartoon mocked Mr Irwin. Picture: Supplied / YouTube
Robert Irwin’s lawyers have threatened legal action over the latest episode of Pauline Hanson’s Please Explain cartoon. Picture: Supplied / YouTube

For years he’s been known as “Steve Irwin’s son” or “Bindi Irwin’s brother”.

But now the wildlife warrior is making a name for himself, slowly carving out a career, including hosting I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! and taking to the catwalk at Melbourne Fashion Festival earlier this year.

He even became the face of a Queensland tourism campaign, aimed at luring internation visitors to the sunshine state.

He teamed-up with cartoon character Bluey for the commercial, which includes a montage of iconic Queensland holiday hotspots, such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Gold Coast, and Brisbane, encouraging visitors to pack their bags.

Last week the commerical was mocked in an episode of One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s cartoon - sparking outrage from Robert Irwin’s camp.

Robert Irwin’s lawyers claim the episode – which features a cartoon of Mr Irwin mocking Queensland’s issues with housing, youth crime and health care as he attempts to show cartoon character Bluey the best of Queensland – is defamatory and involves the “unauthorised and deceptive use” of the 20-year-old’s image.

Robert Irwin has threatened to sue One Nation leader Pauline Hanson for defamation.
They claim the episode was defamatory and involved the ‘unauthorised and deceptive use’ of his image.

The matter dominated the media over the weekend, with Senator Hanson hitting back and telling Mr Irwin to “lighten up”.

Being in the limelight is nothing new for Mr Irwin, who was born to famous parents Steve (“The Crocodile Hunter”) and Terri Irwin.

His parents, both conservationists and zookeepers, had already achieved incredible success and international fame with popular TV show The Crocodile Hunter and a spin-off film.

Steve was famous for his conservation efforts, his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchphrase “Crikey!”.

The couple were also co-owners of Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland, which was founded in 1970 by Steve’s parents as the “Beerwah Reptile Park”.

2/1/2004: Steve Irwin with his baby son Bob. pic Courtesy Ch 7 news.
Steve Irwin with his son Robert in 2004. Picture: Supplied / Channel 7 / Irwin family

First media storm:

Robert was first thrust into the spotlight in January 2004 when he was just one month old.

Steve held him his arms while feeding a crocodile at Australia Zoo, sparking public outrage and debate around the world and even prompting a change in the Queensland government’s crocodile handling laws.

But 18 years later, Robert dismissed the concerns, describing it as “one of the best days of my life” and saying he “couldn’t be safer” in his father’s arms.

“Dad was wild, he was passionate, enthusiastic, but more than anything … he was the best dad on the planet,” he said.

02/01/2004 PIRATE: JANUARY 2, 2004 : Steve Irwin holding newborn son Bob (1 month) as he feeds crocodile Murray in fenced enclosure at his Australia Zoo at Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast 02/01/04. Pic Channel Seven.\nIrwi/fam\n Pic. Supplied
Steve Irwin holds Robert while feeding a crocodile in 2004. Picture: Supplied / Channel 7 / Irwin family

His father’s death:

Robert was only two years old and Bindi was just eight when Steve died in 2006 after being pierced in the chest by a stingray barb while filming in the Great Barrier Reef.

Steve’s death sparked a global outpouring of shock and grief, with the public memorial service estimated to have been watched by more than 300 million viewers around the world.

In the years that followed, the family continued and built on Steve’s legacy, with Bindi and Robert growing up among the animals at Australia Zoo, where Robert was feeding freshwater crocodiles by age 8.

Robert feeds crocodiles at Australia Zoo. Picture: NewsWire/Tertius Pickard.

Childhood success as a television personality:

As a child, Robert published a book series Robert Irwin: Dinosaur Hunter and appeared in television shows including Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors alongside his mother and sister as well as a TV show he co-hosted called Wild But True.

Audiences around the globe couldn’t get enough of Robert, and by the age of 13, he began appearing on popular US late night talk show The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where he showcased different animals.

A love and talent for nature and wildlife photography also emerged, leading to awards and photography exhibitions around the world.

Most recently, he starred alongside his mother and sister in three seasons of reality TV show Crikey! It’s the Irwins, which centred on the family’s work at Australia Zoo.

Robert Irwin with sister Bindi and mother Terri at Australia Zoo. Picture: NewsWire/Tertius Pickard.

Passion for wildlife conservation:

Alongside his sister and mother, Robert’s passion for animals and wildlife conservation has been evident throughout his career.

He continues to educate guests at Australia Zoo about crocodiles and supports conservation projects around the world, including by participating in the annual Australia Zoo crocodile research trip on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in Far North Queensland.

With Bindi and Robert having more than 11 million Instagram followers between them, having met with world leaders including King Charles to discuss the protection of natural habitat, the Irwin family’s influence and success is undeniable, and it seems the public just can’t get enough of the wildlife warriors.

Like his mum, Robert supports conservation projects around the world. Picture: NewsWire / Dan Peled