Entertainment

Bindi Irwin gets us ready for 'Bindi’s Bootcamp'

By Sean Fitzgerald, 24 Hrs

Bindi Irwin in "Bindi's Bootcamp."

Bindi Irwin in "Bindi's Bootcamp."

Bindi Irwin is currently surrounded by dozens of animals, listening to tigers growling.

It seems like that’s the sort of situation where the 16-year-old Australian star would feel most at home. Especially since she lives in a zoo.

“I’m at my house at Australia Zoo at the moment,” she says over the phone during an interview with Postmedia Network. “Our house is literally right in the middle of the zoo, so the tigers are right next door, and I also have the crocodiles next door to them, and then the giraffes.”

If you’re not familiar with Irwin, you probably remember her late father, Steve – also known as the enthusiastic host of the popular wildlife documentary series The Crocodile Hunter. The show lasted for five seasons, spawning a 2002 feature film and helping him spread his message of conservation.

In September 2006, Steve was filming the documentary Ocean’s Deadliest when he approached a stingray from behind, and the startled fish reacted by striking him in the chest hundreds of times with its tail spine, piercing his heart and causing him to bleed out. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Bindi’s self-penned eulogy for her father received a standing ovation, and when you watch footage from that moment it’s remarkable that an eight-year-old could have that much poise, in front of such a huge audience, two weeks after her father’s death. You can hear that gracefulness nearly nine years later on the phone, as she discusses continuing her dad’s work.

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“Dad was, and still is, my living, breathing superhero,” she says. “And I’ve dedicated my life to conservation work and trying to make sure that he’s proud of me. And I think that grief is a challenging journey… because you have a choice. You have a choice of giving up, and saying, ‘Well, I’m done.’ Or, you can rise above, and say that you’ll continue to surround yourself with love and light, and make sure that that person is remembered forever, and make sure that everything they lived for carries on. And that’s what we decided to do with the family.

“It is a hard journey, and there’s good days, and there’s bad days, but you have to remember what he lived for. So, we still watch daddy’s documentaries every morning, which is really nice, and we can relive all of the good times and the good memories, and it carries us forward into the future.”

Bindi, who lives with her mom Terri and younger brother Robert at her family’s zoo, has been involved with a number of showbiz-related endeavours in the past few years, including her children’s game show Bindi’s Bootcamp. This week, North American audiences will get their first taste of the series, as it becomes available on the Canadian and U.S. versions of Netflix.

“Bindi’s Bootcamp is all about inspiring the next generation to get involved and make a difference,” she says about the show, which features teams of ‘bootcampers’ testing their wildlife knowledge in numerous challenges. “Whether it’s getting the bootcampers to create the Deadliest Dinners, or run along a giant obstacle course and meet these huge creatures, it’s been a fantastic project to be a part of. And it’s all filmed at Australia Zoo.”

Earlier this month, Bindi generated some headlines when she posted a grown-up-looking photo on Instagram, wearing makeup and looking very mature. Now, on the verge of turning 17, she’s slowly changing her image as she transitions into adulthood.

“I think that as you grow up, you do come to this crossroads in life, where as a young person, you’re figuring out who you are,” she says. “And that can be a challenge, and so I think that through my messaging on social media, and just every day in my life, I try to spread goodness and positivity.

“As I get older, I’m certainly trying to experiment with different styles. Grace Kelly is my biggest fashion inspiration. It’s just about figuring out where you fit in… but it’s not always easy, with all the positive and negative comments floating around in the world.”

Bindi, who praises Canada as the place with the best mountain biking in the world, says she’s excited to tackle larger projects as she gets older. After all, she just wants to make her father proud.

“For us, myself and my little brother Robert, we’ve both just started off on our life’s journey, and there’s so much left to do,” she says. “As I get older, I want to start tackling bigger issues facing the world today. I want to make as big of a difference as possible.”

Twitter: @SeanDFitzgerald

sean.fitzgerald@sunmedia.ca


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