Terri Irwin

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Terri Irwin

Terri Irwin at 2014 Logies.jpg
Irwin in 2014
Theresa Penelope Raines

(1964-07-20) July 20, 1964 (age 58)
CitizenshipAmerican • Australian
OccupationConservationist, author
Years active1987–present
Notable workThe Crocodile Hunter
(m. 1992; died 2006)
ChildrenBindi Irwin
Robert Irwin

Terri Raines Irwin[3] AM (née Raines, born July 20, 1964)[4] is an American-Australian[1] conservationist, television personality and author who is the owner of Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland. She is the widow of Steve Irwin.

Born in Oregon, she began working for an independent animal rehabilitation center for injured predator mammals at the age of 22 while working for her family's trucking business. While touring wildlife rehabilitation facilities in Australia in 1991, she had a chance meeting with Irwin. The two married in 1992, and went on to co-star in The Crocodile Hunter, their unconventional television nature documentary series and its spin-off series, Croc Files, The Crocodile Hunter Diaries, and Crikey! It's the Irwins. They had two children, Bindi and Robert, before Steve's death in 2006 from a stingray injury.

Following Steve's death, Terri became a naturalised Australian citizen in 2009. She and her two children continue to operate Australia Zoo.

Early life[edit]

Theresa Penelope Raines[5] was born in Eugene, Oregon, United States,[6] the youngest of three daughters of environmentalist parents,[7] Clarence and Judy Raines. Commenting on her childhood, she said, "My friends and I were truly 'free-range kids.' Summers were spent bicycling around Alton Baker Park or hiking up Spencer Butte in the hopes of catching a glimpse of one of the shy rattlesnakes that sought refuge in the rock escarpments. Winters were spent hoping the Willamette Valley would get snow."[8]

Her family owned a long-haul trucking business and, during her childhood, her father constantly brought home injured animals from the highways on which his trucks traveled; this eventually instilled in her an ongoing commitment to saving and rehabilitating wild animals.[6] While working in the family business in 1986, she started a rehabilitation facility called Cougar Country[7] to re-educate and release predator mammals such as foxes, raccoons, bears, bobcats, and cougars back into the wild.[6][9] Soon she was handling 300 animals each year.[10]


Terri joined an emergency veterinary hospital in 1989 as a veterinary technician to gain further knowledge on the care and support to all kinds of animals. Her life was very busy, as she was still helping her father run the family business, rehabilitating animals through her Cougar Country, and working at the vet hospital. In addition, she had 15 cats of her own, several birds, and a dog.[10]

Irwin in front of spectators at Australia Zoo in 1997

In 1991, Terri went on a tour of Australia, and while visiting wildlife rehabilitation facilities, she had a chance meeting with Steve Irwin, whose father had founded the Australia Zoo (as Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park).[7] Steve would later say that "it was love at first sight."[11] A "whirlwind romance" followed: They were engaged after only four months and, eight months later, on June 4, 1992, they married in Eugene, Oregon.[12] Their first television documentary was filmed on their honeymoon. The footage, shot by John Stainton, became the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter,[13] which later became successful in the US.

The couple settled in Australia shortly after their wedding, with Terri leaving her Cougar Country project behind in the US. However, as a partner in their wildlife enterprises and television shows, she believes she was able to do far greater work on behalf of wildlife conservation.[10]

In addition to their two popular television programs shown on the Animal Planet television network in the US, in 2002, the Irwins released a feature film, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course.[14]

In 2018, the series Crikey! It's the Irwins began airing, which focuses on the lives of Terri and her children at Australia Zoo.

Personal life[edit]

Marriage to Steve Irwin[edit]

Terri (right) and Steve Irwin (left) with Wes Mannion (centre)

Terri met Steve Irwin in Australia in 1991.[7] The couple married in her home state of Oregon in 1992 before returning to live in Australia.[7] The Irwins had two children: daughter Bindi on July 24, 1998, and son Robert on December 1, 2003.[15] In an interview before the birth of their second child, Terri Irwin had this to say about her marriage and working with her husband Steve:

We don't drink, we don't smoke, and we are actually in love and happily married. We love our little girl, we go home to each other at night, and we believe in what we are doing. Say my husband had a dangerous job and I wasn't with him; I don't know how you go, 'Oh honey, how was it with the police department today? You got all your fingers and toes today?' It would scare me. I'd have to become a police officer and work with him; I couldn't do it.[16]

Irwin and her children were reportedly trekking in Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, on the morning of September 4, 2006, when Steve died after sustaining heart injuries from a short-tail stingray barb that pierced his chest.[7] He was filming an underwater documentary at the time at Batt Reef near Port Douglas in Queensland.[17] In her first statement after her husband's death, Irwin announced that the Australian memorial service (on September 20, 2006, at Australia Zoo in Queensland) would be open to the public, and that people who wished to attend should make a donation to Irwin's "Wildlife Warriors" fund. The service was held at the "Crocoseum," a 5,500-seat open-air amphitheater, which Steve had built at the zoo and which she had chosen over any larger facility. She also thanked well-wishers for their "overwhelming outpouring of love, support and prayers for [her] family."[18] Terri herself was seemingly too upset to speak at the ceremony. She remained with her son, Robert, during the proceedings, but daughter Bindi spoke about her love for her father, for which she received a standing ovation.

Australian TV network Channel 9 screened an interview between Irwin and local presenter Ray Martin, on September 27, at 8:30pm on the station. During the interview, she said, "And I'll make Australia Zoo bigger. I'll make it bigger . . . because I promised." Barbara Walters held an interview with Irwin on The View, which aired September 27 in the US.

On October 31, 2006, Irwin was invited to the Royal Albert Hall to present a Special Recognition Award to Sir David Attenborough at the British National Television Awards.[19] When she came on stage, the entire audience gave her a standing ovation. Irwin fought back tears, while the camera cut to Neighbours star Alan Fletcher, who was shown to be also fighting back tears. She cited Attenborough as a great inspiration for her husband, saying, "If there's one person, other than his father, who directly inspired my husband, it's the person being honoured tonight," and going on to say "[Steve's] real, true love was conservation – and the influence of tonight's recipient in preserving the natural world has been immense."[19]

Irwin with daughter Bindi and son Robert, 2011

Attenborough reciprocated by praising her husband for introducing many people to the natural world, saying, "He taught them how wonderful and exciting it was; he was a born communicator."[20] Terri published a memoir, My Steve, about her relationship and marriage with Steve Irwin, in 2007.[21]

On January 3, 2007, the only video footage showing the events that led to Steve Irwin's death was handed over to Terri, who said the video would never become public, and noted that her family has not seen the video either. In a January 11, 2007, interview with Access Hollywood, Terri said "all footage has been destroyed." On March 2, 2008, it was announced that Bob Irwin, father of Steve Irwin, had resigned from Australia Zoo, of which he was the founder, in order to "keep his son's dream alive" on a different property with his wife. In a statement to the press, the elder Irwin thanked the staff for all their help but made no mention of Terri. At that time, the zoo was being sued for $2.5 million by a debt collection agency,[22] but the lawsuit was later dismissed by the court.[23]

In a 2018 interview, Terri told People magazine that she had not dated or had a relationship since her husband's death.[24] "There's always the potential to find love again, and that's a beautiful thing . . . but I had my happily ever after," she said, "[so] I'm doing OK."[24]


American by birth, Terri became an Australian citizen on November 15, 2009. In a tribute to her husband Steve, the citizenship ceremony was held during the Steve Irwin Day celebrations in Australia Zoo's Crocoseum.[1][2]

Conservation support[edit]

Irwin has expressed support for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and was present at the launching of one of the organization's vessels, which was renamed after her husband.[25][26]

In 2008, she signed on to a three-year research program in correspondence with Australia Zoo supporting the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, funding two US$250,000 research projects on humpback whales.[27] "Learning about whales is part of a bigger picture," she said of the project. "Our oceans are in jeopardy and the more research we gather about whales, the more knowledge we have to help us save, protect and preserve our delicate oceans."[27]


In 2006, Irwin was made an honorary Member of the Order of Australia for services to wildlife conservation and the tourism industry.[28][29][30] (Honorary of the Order of Australia is the appointment rank to non-citizens of Australia; this became a substantive appointment when she became an Australian citizen in 2009.)[31]

Irwin won the 2007 Queensland Telstra Business Women's Award.[32]

She has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Queensland for her work in conservation and support of high-quality research.[33]

In 2014, Irwin was a Queensland finalist for Australian of the Year.[34]


Year Title Role Notes
1997–2004 The Crocodile Hunter Herself Series regular
1999–2001 Croc Files Herself Series regular
2002 The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course Herself Comedy film
2002 The Wiggles: Wiggly Safari Herself
2002–06 The Crocodile Hunter Diaries Herself Series regular
2003–07 Australian Story Herself 2 episodes
2007 My Daddy, the Crocodile Hunter Herself Television documentary
2007 Ocean's Deadliest Herself Television documentary
2011 Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson Herself Documentary film
2017 Kangaroo Herself Documentary film
2018–present Crikey! It's the Irwins Herself Series regular


  • Irwin, Terri; Irwin, Steve (2002). The Crocodile Hunter: The Incredible Life and Adventures of Steve and Terri Irwin. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-101-22009-2.
  • Irwin, Terri (2007). My Steve. Simon & Schuster Australia. ISBN 978-0-731-81413-8.


  1. ^ a b c Brown, Ann-Louise (November 16, 2009). "Citizenship Terri Irwin's gift to Steve". Brisbane Times. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Terri calls Australia home - officially!". australiazoo.com. Australia Zoo. November 20, 2009. Archived from the original on July 23, 2018. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  3. ^ "Australia Zoo Operations Pty Ltd". dun & bradstreet. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  4. ^ "Terri Irwin official biography".
  5. ^ "Irwin, Terri - Full record view - Libraries Australia Search". librariesaustralia.nla.gov.au. Retrieved October 18, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c Arnold, Gary (July 12, 2002). "The Steve and Terri Show; Crocodile Hunters Move to the Big screen". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on April 24, 2017. Retrieved April 24, 2017 – via HighBeam Research.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Courier Mail Staff (September 8, 2006). "Mess on his wedding day". The Courier Mail. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  8. ^ Kennedy, William (January 2017). "Before They Were Stars". EugeneMagazine. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  9. ^ Gire, Dann (July 5, 2002). "Animal Attraction for Wildlife Lovers Steve and Terri Irwin, Life's Greatest Hunt Led to Romance". Daily Herald. Archived from the original on April 24, 2017. Retrieved April 24, 2017 – via HighBeam Research. The former Terri Raines grew up in Eugene, Ore., where she started a rehab facility for injured bears, cougars, raccoons and bobcats so they could be safely set free in the wild.
  10. ^ a b c "About Steve & Terri". The Crocodile Hunter. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  11. ^ "Steve and Terri Irwin". Enough Rope with Andrew Denton. March 22, 2004. Archived from the original on May 12, 2016. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  12. ^ Hogue, Theresa (September 22, 2006). "'Crocodile Hunter' wed by local pastor". Corvallis Gazette-Times. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  13. ^ Mann, Simon (September 5, 2006). "Crocodile Hunter died as he lived in nature's danger zone". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  14. ^ "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course". boxofficemojo.com. Box Office Mojo. December 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  15. ^ Mann, Simon (September 5, 2006). "Call of the wild". The Age. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  16. ^ Murray, Rebecca. ""Crocodile Hunter - Collision Course" Interview". About.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  17. ^ Staines, Jason (September 4, 2006). "Crocodile man, Steve Irwin, dies". The Age. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  18. ^ "'Crocoseum' tribute set for Irwin". BBC News. September 13, 2006. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  19. ^ a b "Wildlife legend honoured". ITN News. ITN. November 1, 2006. Archived from the original on March 20, 2020. Retrieved November 1, 2006.
  20. ^ "Terri Irwin presents award to Attenborough". The Australian. News.com.au. November 2, 2006. Archived from the original on November 1, 2007. Retrieved November 3, 2006.
  21. ^ Irwin, Terri (2008). My Steve. Simon & Schuster Australia. ISBN 978-0-731-81413-8.
  22. ^ "Bob Irwin quits Steve's zoo". The Courier-Mail. March 1, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  23. ^ Ross, Norrie (May 8, 2008). "Terri Irwin and Australia Zoo defeat huge lawsuit". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  24. ^ a b "Terri Irwin Hasn't Been On A Date Since Losing Steve: 'Already Had My Happily Ever After'". People TV. January 31, 2018. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved May 1, 2018 – via YouTube.
  25. ^ "Steve Irwin had can-opener plan to take on whalers". The Courier-Mail. November 6, 2008. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  26. ^ "Environment News Service – Sea Shepherd Heads for Antarctic Battle With Japanese Whalers". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2008.
  27. ^ a b "Irwin, OSU announce funding for whale studies". The Oregonian. Portland, Oregon. Associated Press. June 25, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  28. ^ It's an Honour – Honours – Search Australian Honours
  29. ^ "Australia Zoo – In The News – Terri Irwin appointed Order of Australia". Archived from the original on August 31, 2006.
  30. ^ "Australia Zoo – In The News – Terri becomes a casual honorary Aussie for a day". Archived from the original on August 30, 2006.
  31. ^ "It's an Honour – Honours – Awards – Honorary Awards". Archived from the original on May 5, 2018. Retrieved September 17, 2006.
  32. ^ "2007 Telstra Business Women's Awards". Telstra Business Women's Awards. Archived from the original on August 16, 2018. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  33. ^ Cameron Atfield (July 24, 2015). "Terri Irwin awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Queensland". Brisbane Times.
  34. ^ "State Finalist Australian of the Year 2015: Terri Irwin". Australian of the Year. Archived from the original on October 11, 2014.

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