Elephants are some of the most beautiful and majestic animals on Earth. They’re the largest land mammal, and their unique beauty inspires awe from people around the world.
But sadly, they’re also one of the most vulnerable. Elephants have experienced significant population decline over the past century, threatened by poaching and the illegal ivory trade. Several species of elephant are now considered endangered and critically endangered.
It’s important to do everything we can to protect elephants from extinction, which is why August 12 is celebrated as “World Elephant Day,” an even that aims to spread awareness about the threats to elephants and encourage their conservation.
And this year, Bindi Irwin took to social media to celebrate World Elephant Day — with a beautiful throwback photo of her late dad, Steve Irwin.
‘Presence of these giant angels’
Bindi, who in the years since Steve’s tragic death in 2006 has followed in his footsteps as an animal conservationist and media celebrity, shared an old photo on her Instagram of her father, on location in Africa during the early 2000s filming The Crocodile Hunter.
The beautiful photo shows Steve Irwin sitting on the ground in front of a herd of elephants, completely serene and one with nature, no doubt admiring the elephants’ beauty.
“To be in the presence of these giant angels is to know you’ve experienced magic,” Bindi wrote.
She used the photo to celebrate World Elephant Day, and to encourage awareness of their need for human action: “Every day we must think about our impacts on the planet and how they ripple out towards our fellow species,” Bindi wrote.
“Their future depends on us.”
Steve Irwin’s dream for elephants
Steve Irwin famously loved animals of all kinds, but he had a special place in his heart for elephants. One of his dreams was to open a hospital for elephants in Indonesia.
“Steve dreamed of opening an elephant hospital after witnessing first-hand the issues they were facing in the wild,” Australia Zoo staffer Luke Reavley told Buzzfeed News.
Tragically, Steve was killed in an accident involving a sting ray in 2006, and never got to see this dream fulfilled. But his family, who have continued his legacy and work at the Australia Zoo, later made his dream a reality.
“We just … finished one of his greatest goals which was to open an elephant hospital in Indonesia,” Terri Irwin said in 2019. “In Sumatra, when elephants step on a landmine or they get caught in a snare there was no hospital to treat them, and we now have just opened an elephant hospital, so it’s pretty special.”
“I think for us as a family we always want to make sure that his legacy continues, because Dad always said, ‘I don’t care if people remember me, I care if people remember my message,” Bindi added.
The Irwins also have a sanctuary for Sumatran elephants — a critically endangered species with fewer than 2,000 individuals left in the wild — in the Australia Zoo. According to their site, the sanctuary is home to four female Sumatran elephants, who have hundreds of acres of land to roam.
World Elephant Day has been officially celebrated since 2012, first conceived by Canadian filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark. Sims continues to lead the event every year, and over the past decade has attracted support from over 100 wildlife organizations and many celebrities.
Elephants are incredible, beautiful animals that remain under threat of extinction due to poaching. We all need to be like the late Steve Irwin and do all we can to save them.
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