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Theresa Penelope "Terri" Irwin AM (née Raines; born July 20, 1964) is an American-Australian[1] naturalist and author, and the owner of Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland. She is the widow of naturalist and television personality Steve Irwin. Terri Irwin co-starred with her husband on The Crocodile Hunter, their unconventional television nature documentary series and its spin-off series, Croc Files and The Crocodile Hunter Diaries. She has lived in Australia since 1992, when she married Irwin.

Terri Irwin
Terri on a San Francisco morning radio show during a US tour with Steve, 2002.
Born Theresa Penelope Raines
(1964-07-20) July 20, 1964 (age 53)
Eugene, Oregon, U.S.
Residence Beerwah, Queensland, Australia
Nationality American
  • United States
  • Australia
Occupation Naturalist, author
Years active 1986–present
Notable work The Crocodile Hunter
Spouse(s) Steve Irwin (m. 1992; his death 2006)
Children Bindi Sue Irwin (b. 1998)
Robert Clarence Irwin (b. 2003)
Parent(s) Clarence and Judy Raines


Early lifeEdit

Theresa Penelope Raines was born in Eugene, Oregon,[2] the youngest of three daughters of Clarence and Judy Raines. Her family was in the trucking business. During her childhood, her father constantly brought home injured animals from the highways on which his trucks travelled; this eventually instilled in her an ongoing commitment to saving and rehabilitating wild animals.[2] While working in the family business in 1986, she started a rehabilitation facility called "Cougar Country" to re-educate and release predator mammals such as foxes, raccoons, bears, bobcats, and cougars back into the wild.[2][3] Soon she was handling 300 animals each year.[4]


Steve Irwin (1962–2006), Terri Irwin's husband.

Irwin 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 fifteen cats of her own, several birds and a dog.[4]

In 1991, she 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). Steve would later say that "it was love at first sight."[5] A "whirlwind romance" followed: They were engaged after only four months, and eight months later, on June 4, 1992, they married in Eugene, Oregon.[6] Their first television documentary was filmed on their honeymoon. The footage, shot by John Stainton, became the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter,[7] which later became successful in the United States.

Steve Irwin was the owner of Australia Zoo, along with Terri.

The couple settled in Australia shortly after their wedding, Terri leaving her Cougar Country project behind in the United States. 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.

In addition to their two popular television programs shown on the Animal Planet television network in the United States, in 2002, the Irwins released a feature film, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course.[8]

She, Steve and Bindi appeared in the Wiggles video/DVD release Wiggly Safari in 2002.

The Irwins had two children: daughter Bindi Sue on July 24, 1998, and son Robert Clarence on December 1, 2003.[9]

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."[10]


Irwin and her children were reportedly trekking in Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, on the morning of September 4, 2006, when her husband Steve died. He sustained heart injuries from a short-tail stingray barb which pierced his chest. He was filming an underwater documentary at the time at Batt Reef near Port Douglas in Queensland.[11]

In her first statement since her husband's death, Irwin announced 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 built at the zoo and which she chose over any larger facility. She also thanked well-wishers for their "overwhelming outpouring of love, support and prayers for [her] family".[12] Terri herself was seemingly too upset to speak at the ceremony. She remained with her son, Rob, 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.

Terri with her daughter Bindi in September 2007

On October 31, 2006 Irwin was invited to the Royal Albert Hall to award a Special Recognition Award to Sir David Attenborough at the British National Television Awards.[13] 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 fighting back tears also. 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."[13]

Attenborough reciprocated by praising her husband for introducing many to the natural world, saying "He taught them how wonderful and exciting it was; he was a born communicator."[14]

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 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 the same time, the zoo was being sued for $2.5 million by a debt collection agency,[15] but the lawsuit was later dropped in an out-of-court settlement.[16]

Conservation supportEdit

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.[17][18]


In 2006, Irwin was made an honorary Member of the Order of Australia for services to wildlife conservation and the tourism industry.[19][20][21] ("Honorary" membership in the Order of Australia is a version of the award given to non-citizens of Australia; this became a substantive award when she became an Australian citizen in 2009.[22])

Irwin won the 2007 Queensland Telstra Business Women's Award.[23]

She has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Queensland for her work in conservation and support of high-quality research.[24]

In 2014, Irwin was a Queensland finalist for Australian of the Year.[25]

Australian citizenshipEdit

Irwin, American by birth, 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][26]


  1. ^ a b Brown, Ann-Louise (November 16, 2009). "Citizenship Terri Irwin's gift to Steve". Brisbane Times. Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Arnold, Gary (July 12, 2002). "The Steve and Terri Show; Crocodile Hunters Move to the Big screen" . The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 April 2017 – via HighBeam Research. 
  3. ^ Gire, Dann (July 5, 2002). "Animal Attraction for Wildlife Lovers Steve and Terri Irwin, Life's Greatest Hunt Led to Romance" . Daily Herald. Retrieved 24 April 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. 
  4. ^ a b "About Steve & Terri". The Crocodile Hunter. Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  5. ^ "Steve and Terri Irwin". Enough Rope with Andrew Denton. 22 March 2004. Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  6. ^ Hogue, Theresa (22 September 2006). "'Crocodile Hunter' wed by local pastor". Corvallis Gazette-Times. Retrieved 12 May 2017. 
  7. ^ Mann, Simon (September 5, 2006). "Crocodile Hunter died as he lived in nature's danger zone". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved March 1, 2016. 
  8. ^ "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course". Box Office Mojo. December 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2015. 
  9. ^ Mann, Simon (September 5, 2006). "Call of the wild". The Age. Retrieved March 1, 2016. 
  10. ^ Murray, Rebecca. ""Crocodile Hunter - Collision Course" Interview". Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  11. ^ Staines, Jason (September 4, 2006). "Crocodile man, Steve Irwin, dies". The Age. Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  12. ^ "'Crocoseum' tribute set for Irwin". BBC News. September 13, 2006. Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Wildlife legend honoured". ITN News. ITN. November 1, 2006. Retrieved November 1, 2006. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Terri Irwin presents award to Attenborough". The Australian. November 2, 2006. Archived from the original on November 1, 2007. Retrieved November 3, 2006. 
  15. ^ "Bob Irwin quits Steve's zoo". The Courier-Mail. March 1, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2015. 
  16. ^ Ross, Norrie (May 8, 2008). "Terri Irwin and Australia Zoo defeat huge lawsuit". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Steve Irwin had can-opener plan to take on whalers". The Courier-Mail. November 6, 2008. Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  18. ^ Environment News Service – Sea Shepherd Heads for Antarctic Battle With Japanese Whalers
  19. ^ It's an Honour – Honours – Search Australian Honours
  20. ^ Australia Zoo – In The News – Terri Irwin appointed Order of Australia Archived August 31, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ Australia Zoo – In The News – Terri becomes a casual honorary Aussie for a day Archived August 30, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ It's an Honour – Honours – Awards – Honorary Awards
  23. ^ "2007 Telstra Business Women's Awards". Telstra Business Women's Awards. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  24. ^ Cameron Atfield (July 24, 2015). "Terri Irwin awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Queensland". Brisbane Times. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Terri calls Australia home - officially!". Australia Zoo. November 20, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2015. 

External linksEdit