It’s a big week for Australia’s favourite wildlife family, The Irwins.
Robert Irwin, the 19-year-old son of late wildlife expert Steve Irwin, announced that a turtle had hatched at the Australia Zoo — and it carries a very special connection to his dad.
Robert choked up with emotion as he shared on an Instagram video that the zoo had welcome its very first Irwin’s turtle, the first time the rare freshwater species was bred in a zoo since Steve discovered the reptile species during a hunting trip in 1990.
“This is one of the highlights of my entire life and one of the most special moments ever for Australia Zoo. This is the very first Elseya irwini, or Irwin’s turtle, ever hatched for any zoological facility anywhere in the world,” he explained.
The video shows a photo of Steve with the one of the turtle species, before cutting to footage of Robert releasing the baby into a pond at the zoo.
“For the first time, we’ve got a little baby, and he’s gonna get his first swim in a brand new pond.”
Choking back tears, Robert reflected on what this milestone would mean to Steve.
“It’s just so surreal,” he said, he voice wavering. “And all those stories from Dad about just how amazing and beautiful they are… I don’t get emotional that much, but I just know Dad would be really proud, Dad would be stoked,” he said.
Steve was killed in 2006, at the age of 44, after he was fatally pierced by a stingray barb while filming a television episode on the Great Barrier Reef.
He was mourned by people worldwide, many of whom tuned into his educational nature programming over the years, including the hit show The Crocodile Hunter.
Now, Robert and his sister, Bindi Irwin, are continuing their dad’s legacy of working with animals and both frequently share memories of Steve’s life and conservation work.
In the caption for the video, Robert called the turtle’s birth “a special moment.”
“I think Dad would be pretty proud that we’ve become the first to successfully breed the turtle that he discovered,” he wrote.