Steve Irwin’s son Robert Irwin becomes emotional after breeding rare turtle named after late TV star

Robert Irwin, the son of the late conservationist Steve Irwin, has celebrated breeding a rare turtle that his father discovered in 1990.

Steve was an Australian zookeeper and media personality who entertained and educated generations of children with his nature-based television programmes, including The Crocodile Hunter.

In 2006, he was fatally pierced with a stingray barb while filming an underwater programme on the Great Barrier Reef. He is survived by his wife and Crocodile Hunter co-star Terri Irwin, as well as their two children, Bindi, now 25, and 19-year-old Robert.

Both Bindi and Robert share their parents’ passion for animals and the natural world, and have continued to share educational content through TV programmes and on social media.

On Saturday (14 October), Robert shared a video of himself holding a freshly hatched Elseya irwini turtle at Australia Zoo, Queensland. The freshwater species is also known as “Irwin’s turtle” after Steve discovered the rare creature variety during a boating trip with his father, naturalist Bob Irwin.

“This is one of the highlights of my entire life, one of the most special moments ever for Australia Zoo,” Robert began. “This is the very first Elseya irwini, Irwin’s turtle, ever hatched for any zoological facility anywhere in the world.”

After the clip shows images of Steve with the turtles, Robert is then seen letting the baby turtle into the zoo’s pond.

“For the first time, we’ve got a little baby, and he’s gonna get his first swim in a brand new pond.”

Robert Irwin and Irwin’s turtle (Instagram / Robert Irwin / screengrab)
Robert Irwin and Irwin’s turtle (Instagram / Robert Irwin / screengrab)

After a beat, Robert catches his breath and reflects on what this achievement would have meant to his father.

“My dad would be stoked with that,” he says, adding: “We did it.”

As a caption to the video post on social media, Robert began his caption by reiterating that it was a “special moment”.

“I think Dad would be pretty proud that we’ve become the first to successfully breed the turtle that he discovered,” Robert wrote. “A rare, and unique species under threat in the wild has just been given a second chance.”

In response to Robert’s post, many fans of the Irwin family have shared their congratulations, with some drawing similarities between father and son.

“Steve is looking down and crying tears of joy,” one commenter wrote on Instagram. “His heart is proud of not only turtle, but with the fact that his legacy continued with same path he visualised.”

In another response, one viewer wrote: “Well done mate. Powering on with what your old man’s left behind.”

Elsewhere, one person recalled first seeing Steve, writing: “I remember watching the episode where Steve discovered the turtle and my little kid brain thought it was SO COOL that a whole species was named after him. Now years later, it’s still so exciting to see his legacy live on in so many ways.”

Earlier this year, fans were excited by the news that Robert was dating Rorie Buckley, the niece of another late Australian star, actor Heath Ledger.