The world lost one of its most beloved conservationists and TV personalities in 2006, after Steve Irwin, the iconic star of The Crocodile Hunter, was tragically killed by a stingray.
But his legacy has lived on, both through the fans who grew up watching his wildlife series, and his family, who have kept up his important conservation work at the Australia Zoo, working to protect native wildlife.
Both of his children, Bindi and Robert, have followed in his footsteps as animal conservationists and media personalities, and even his baby granddaughter, Bindi’s daughter Grace Irwin Powell, is already demonstrating a love for animals.
Today, February 22, would have been Steve Irwin’s 60th birthday — and his family took the occasion to reflect on the late icon’s impact and legacy.
Bindi shared a touching post on Instagram, with a photo of herself as a young girl with her dad, who is handling an animal
“Happy Birthday to the greatest dad and Wildlife Warrior,” Bindi wrote. “Today I’ll watch ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ with Grace Warrior and share stories about her incredible Grandpa Crocodile. I love you with all my heart. Your legacy lives on.”
Bindi, who has been busy over the past year raising her baby daughter Grace, has been trying to instill in her child both a love for animals and a recognition of her world-famous grandad, who she sadly never got to meet.
“This sweetheart lights up seeing her ‘Grandpa Crocodile’ on screen,” Bindi wrote on Twitter in September, on the 15th anniversary of Steve’s death.
“I wish that Dad could hug my beautiful girl… I hold on to the thought that he’s her guardian angel now, watching over the most special part of my life, Grace.”
While the two never got to meet, baby Grace still has plenty of her grandfather in her, including her middle names.
“[Grace’s] middle names, Warrior Irwin, are a tribute to my dad and his legacy as the most incredible Wildlife Warrior,” Bindi wrote announcing the birth of her daughter.
While not even a year old yet, Grace has demonstrated a real knack with animals, showing that she’s already following in Steve’s footsteps.
“I think she’s got that determination that Steve had and that connection with wildlife,” Terri Irwin, Steve’s widow and Bindi’s mother, told Entertainment Tonight of her baby granddaughter. “Because it is weird to see animals just gravitate to her.”
Steve’s son, Robert Irwin, also shared a tribute to his late father in honor of his 60th birthday.
His own throwback pic shows Robert as a young boy on a motorbike with Steve.
“Happy birthday Dad. I love you and I miss you more every single day,” Robert wrote. “My earliest memories are my fondest, thanks to you. Hanging on tight to the handlebars of the motorbike, when you’d take Bindi and I on your morning lap of the zoo – before going to get ice cream for breakfast.”
“Every minute spent with you was a blessing. I’m gonna ride that lap on your old motorbike this afternoon.”
Today, Robert is far from the young boy seen in that photograph — he recently celebrated his 18th birthday.
Now that he’s officially an adult, Robert plans to keep following in Steve’s footsteps and continue his legacy of helping Australia’s wildlife.
“Wildlife conservation is everything to us, protecting our world wildlife,” he said in an interview on The Kelly Clarkson Show. “And now turning 18, I get to be more stuck in with all of the different conservation work that we do around the world.”
“It really is a big honor for me to get to work full-time, and to [begin] this wonderful new chapter of life. It’s really, really exciting. I’m very, very proud definitely.”
Happy birthday to the late, great Steve Irwin. The world misses you — but it’s inspiring to see how your family has followed in your footsteps, working hard to protect Australia’s wildlife.
Share this story with your own memories of the great Steve Irwin.