September 6 was Father’s Day in Australia, but Bindi Irwin has not forgotten her late dad, Crocodile Hunter star Steve Irwin. The ninth anniversary of Steve’s death was September 4, but while Bindi Irwin is stepping into high heels as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars – her partner is pro ballroom dancer Derek Hough – it’s clear her dad is not far from her thoughts.
The 17-year-old was only 8 when her father died accidentally after receiving a stingray barb to the chest while filming in 2006. Bindi Irwin spoke at her father’s funeral two weeks after he died, and as she has grown, she has continued to pay tribute to her late father’s conservation efforts.
Bindi Irwin noted in an interview with Sunday Style that her father’s early death had a significant impact on her formative years, as it would anyone.
“It really affects you,” she said. “It makes you want to live each day as if it’s your last.”
Bindi Irwin is the eldest of the two Irwin children; her younger brother, Robert, also known as Bob, was only 3 when their father was killed. Now 11, the youngest of the Irwin family made headlines of his own in September 2014 when he was pulled out of the way of a hungry crocodile he was feeding by Steve Irwin‘s best friend Wes Mannion, who is also an animal handler at the Australia Zoo. Bob was handling feeding duties in the Crocoseum when it seemed as though the crocodile had lost its patience with the younger Irwin. Fortunately, Mannion was there to pull the boy to safety in the event of a mishap, but headlines abounded that Bob was following in his father’s footsteps.
Bindi Irwin, however, has garnered quite a bit of attention as she’s continued to mature in the spotlight. When professional wakeboarder and boyfriend Chandler Powell posted a selfie in honour of Bindi Irwin’s 17th birthday in July, social media reacted as though Bindi Irwin was one of their own. For her part, though, she remains grounded and apparently focussed on her father’s same mission of raising awareness of the importance and beauty of the world that surrounds us.
Bindi Irwin also took time on her birthday to express her gratitude for those who have supported her for the last 17 years.
“I am so happy with where I am and where I’m headed. I have the most beautiful souls in my life supporting me and helping me to follow my dreams. I love them more than I can ever express in words,” Bindi Irwin posted. “To my family, friends, and the people who will forever have a place in my heart, thank you for everything. For changing my life and making me the person I am today.”
(Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)