Crocs and conservation

Steve Irwin's passion for wildlife conservation lives on and will be celebrated with a gala event on 10 November.

There’s no arguing that Steve Irwin left his mark on Australia. While he was well-known for wrestling six-foot crocodiles, Steve and his wife Terri were also passionate about animal conservation and education. They met through their passion for animal welfare and in 2002 created the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors. Even after his death in 2006, Terri along with their two children, Bindi and Robert, have maintained Wildlife Warriors and created a legacy that would make him proud.

“Crocodile numbers are always at risk from humans, either through removing them unnecessarily or through the destruction of their habitat,” Australia Zoo Head of Crocodile Research Toby Millard said.

“It’s important to help keep people safe by educating them to make wise decisions when in croc territory.”

The program may have begun with crocs but has now expanded to include Cambodian elephants, Sumatran tigers and cheetahs.

The Wildlife Warriors have gone abroad and teamed up with Flora and Fauna International to create a range of strategies to boost Cambodian elephant numbers in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains – from deforestation and poaching protection to educating villagers about how they can keep their overly curious neighbours from disappearing.

With only 6600 cheetahs and a heartbreaking 350 Sumatran tigers left in the world, Wildlife Warriors are working with Tiger Protection and Conservation Units and Cheetah Outreach to make sure these beautiful cats are around for the next generation.

The Wildlife Warriors aren’t just known for their conservation efforts but also the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Once an avocado packing farm, the hospital has treated over 75000 animals since opening its doors in 2004. The hospital was created in honour of Steve’s mother Lyn Irwin who was a pioneer in wildlife care and rehabilitation. The hospital is also the foremost specialist treatment centre in Australia for koalas. Special care is needed to treat these vulnerable Aussie icons.   

Working closely with the Wildlife Hospital is the Animal Rescue Unit. The team is often the first point of call for the public when an injured animal is found. They have travelled roughly five million kilometres across Queensland to retrieve injured and dying native animals and received more than 33,000 wildlife emergency calls. 

RACQ members can also save 10% off entry to Australia Zoo and receive a sneak peek of the Wildlife Hospital.

Photos by Bindi Irwin