The cheeky trick Steve Irwin used to get a date with Terri Irwin

·Contributor
·6-min read

It was love at first sight for Terri and Steve Irwin, but their romance almost didn't happen.

Terri Raines met Steve at his zoo in 1991 when she was just 27 and he was 29.

She was travelling around Queensland and just happened to go to Australia Zoo that day.

Steve and Terri Irwin with a goanna.
Steve and Terri Irwin were soulmates. Photo: Instagram/@bindisueirwin

"I wasn't even dating, I wasn't even looking," she told Anh Do as she sat for her portrait.

"I was 27-years-old, and figured my life was going to be my work, and met Steve and fell instantly in love."

'He's probably married'

"There was a crocodile demonstration going on with this guy," Terri explained on an episode of Crocodile Hunter.

"This man was in with a crocodile talking about animals the way you talk about what you had for lunch.

"'And now I'm going to feed this crocodile. Isn't he a little beauty?' the man was saying.

"I thought, 'Well, I never really thought of crocodiles as beautiful, but I'll have a look'. He handed the crocodile some food.

"It came screaming out of the water, grabbed the piece of food, and he was as calm as if he was mailing a letter in a letter box. I was sold. I thought this man is the most incredible guy I have ever seen. He's probably married. He's gotta be taken."

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She plucked up the courage to talk to him anyway.

"When Steve and I met, he asked me, ‘would you like to meet my girlfriend?’" Terri revealed to Us Weekly.

"I just felt utterly crushed, and then he called out, ‘hey, Suey,’ and here comes this little dog, Suey.

"I went, 'Boom! No girlfriend!'"

Terri and Steve Irwin with dog Suey.
The couple, pictured with Suey, got engaged at Australia Zoo 29 years ago last February. Photo: Instagram/@bindisueirwin

It was equally as instant for Steve.

"When I saw Terri in the crowd, I looked up and our eyes met and my heart just went, 'BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG,' just starting thumping. It was love at first sight," Steve is quoted as saying.

"I know this sounds like it's coming out of some Mills & Boon love novel, but it's true ... so I wound up the demo - 'yep, thanks for coming' - and then she stayed back and talked to me."

Steve Irwin and his wife Terri with an iguana
'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin and his wife Terri with "Jonathon" the Green Iguana at Australia Zoo in 1993. Photo: Getty Images

Both wildlife conservationists, the couple didn't need a long romance to know they were perfect for each other.

They were engaged on February 3, 1992 and married that June in Terri’s hometown of Eugene, Oregon.

Their honeymoon was a little different, though perfectly suited to a couple so interested in animal conservation.

They spent it on a crocodile rescue mission, with a film crew in tow, which was how their documentary series The Crocodile Hunter began.

Terri and Steve Irwin seated in named director chairs on location.
Terri and Steve looked loved up on the set of their documentary series. Photo: Instagram/@bindisueirwin

Of course, the TV show was a huge success and Steve, Terri and Australia Zoo became household names, not just in Australia but in the US.

Fans could not wait to hear their adventures and what additions they planned for their very Aussie Zoo.

In 1998 they announced a very special addition - they were expecting their first child.

Steve, Bindi and Terri Irwin with a small crocodile.
Steve, Bindi and Terri with a small version of daddy's favourite carnivore. Photo: Instagram/@bindisueirwin

Bindi Sue (her middle name a homage to their dog Suey) was born on July 24, 1998.

"Who would have thought someone as ugly as me could bring into the world something so beautiful, such a treasure?" Steve said in a 2003 interview.

By the end of that year he was a father of two, with Robert Clarence Irwin born in December.

Steve and Terri relished parenthood and Steve captured as many precious moments on film as he could.

Terri and Steve Irwin with a snake.
Steve Irwin shows a snake to his wife Terri at the San Francisco Zoo while on a three-week tour to promote the release of feature film: The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course in 2002. Photo: Getty Images

"Since I can remember, my life has been captured on camera," Bindi revealed to the Courier Mail.

"I was literally filmed being born … that was exciting," she said.

Tragedy struck in September 2006 when Steve was filming a documentary. He was barbed in the chest while diving with stingrays. The freak accident was fatal.

Bindi was eight when her father died and Robert was just two.

"The great thing about our lives being captured on film is that we could just press rewind and play, and there you go," Bindi said.

"There is your childhood growing up with Dad, right in front of your eyes. It can be a great blessing.

"It was a really hard time for us and, because we were so young, memories tend to fade."

Terri Irwin sits with daughter Bindi, son Robert and Steve's father Bob at Steve's memorial service.
Terri Irwin sits with daughter Bindi, son Robert and Steve's father Bob at the memorial service for her husband at Australia Zoo in Beerwah, in September 2006. Photo: Getty Images

Although so young, Bindi read a heart-wrenching eulogy at her father's memorial service.

Watched by thousands at the event and about 300 million around the world, the little girl brought tears to strangers' eyes as she remembered her dad.

"My Daddy was my hero – he was always there for me when I needed him," she said on the day.

"He listened to me and taught me so many things, but most of all he was fun.

"I have the best Daddy in the whole world and I will miss him every day.

"When I see a crocodile I will always think of him and I know that Daddy made this zoo so everyone could come and learn to love all the animals.

"Daddy made this place his whole life and now it’s our turn to help Daddy."

Terri Irwin, Bindi Irwin and Robert Irwin kneel at the star honouring Steve Irwin on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Terri, Bindi and Robert attend the ceremony honouring Steve Irwin with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 26, 2018 in Hollywood, California. Photo: Getty Images
Terri Irwin holds granddaughter Grace with Robert and Bindi by her side and Bindi's husband Chandler.
Grandma 'Bunny' Terri Irwin holding her granddaughter Grace with Robert, Bindi and Bindi's husband Chandler Powell. Photo: Instagram/@bindisueirwin

The family has continued Steve's conservation work and running Australia Zoo, but people have often wondered if Terri has found love again.

She finally put their questions to rest when she appeared on Anh's Brush With Fame in 2018.

"I feel that we had that soulmate thing and in the 10 years since, I haven't dated or even thought about it, because I'm not afraid to be on my own," Terri told Anh.

"It’s just really hard not having Steve. I'm just lonely for Steve.

"If I hadn't married Steve, I wouldn't have gotten married."

She told People magazine: "I think it’s wonderful when people who have lost someone find love again, but I’m not personally looking, and I haven’t been on a date in 27 years.

"But I’m content. I have two beautiful kids, a really full plate. I’ve already had my happily ever after."

Now she is focused on the zoo, her children and her beautiful grandchild Grace Warrior.

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