“My dad would be stoked.”
Robert works at Australia Zoo to continue his father’s animal conservation and education mission. In the Oct. 14 video shared on his various social media platforms, Robert showed a direct connection to his beloved father: a baby turtle hatched at the zoo from a breed initially discovered in the wild by Steve Irwin.
The elder Irwin discovered the new freshwater turtle species in the 1990s during one of his many adventures in the wild. After officials confirmed the turtle was a new species, they gave it the scientific name Elseya irwini and dubbed it Irwin’s turtle in honor of the man who found it.
Now, 33 years after Steve Irwin’s discovery, the turtle is listed as an endangered species, making the newest zoo arrival historic.
“This is one of the highlights of my entire life and one of the most special moments ever for Australia Zoo,” 19-year-old Robert says as he holds the little turtle in his hand. “This is the very first Elseya irwini, Irwin’s turtle, ever hatched for any zoological facility anywhere in the world.”
During the video, photos of Steve holding up the original Irwin’s turtle he found appeared, cementing the connection between the turtle generations and the bond between father and son.
The tiny turtle was introduced to a new freshwater environment within Australia Zoo, which the younger Irwin called “a little slice of the wild.”
With a gentle hand, Robert sets the baby into his new home, and off the turtle swam. That’s when Irwin got choked up at the thought of how life finds a way to carry on.
Wow. This 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. A rare, and unique species under threat in the wild has just been given a second chance. pic.twitter.com/w2K7FjKYUA
— Robert Irwin (@RobertIrwin) October 14, 2023
“It’s just so surreal,” he said in the video. “And all of those stories from Dad about just how amazing and beautiful they are. I don’t get emotional that much … my dad would be stoked on that.”
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