Australian Celebrities

Bob Irwin’s last stand: “I’m taking back the zoo!”

After years of silence, Steve’s dad is fighting back.
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Bob Irwin knows full well he’s not getting any younger.

But as the committed conservationist nears his 84th birthday next month, he is preparing to enter the battle of his life – to finally try and reclaim his iconic Australia Zoo.

According to a well-placed source, Bob has never been more determined to take back what he believes is rightly his, even if that means going head-to-head with his estranged daughter-in-law, Terri, 58. 

He feels the zoo was whisked away from him following the 2006 death of his son Steve.

WATCH NOW: Robert Irwin plays with wild animals on Jimmy Fallon. Article continues after video. 

“Bob’s genuine passion for the environment and all creatures great and small has given him the courage to push Terri to hand back the keys before the place turns into something so far from what he always dreamed it would be,” the source reveals exclusively to New Idea.

It was 1970 when Bob fulfilled his dream to create a zoo. He bought around a hectare on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and built the Beerwah Reptile Park. 

A financial agreement was reached in 1992 when Bob and his late first wife Lyn handed over ownership to son Steve and daughter-in-law Terri.

They then transformed it into the current 283-hectare Australia Zoo. 

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Ownership of the zoo could change sooner than we think… (Credit: Australia Zoo)

“The final straw for Bob was the recent announcement they were opening up the zoo’s grounds for rock concerts, with none other than Terri’s old mate Russell Crowe and his band set to be one of the first of the rowdy gigs!” confirms the source.

“Bob finds it insulting that this conservation haven that he was the brainchild of is now attracting thousands of partygoers – next thing you know they’ll be hosting Schoolies!”

Soon after handing over the reigns to Steve and Terri, Bob retreated from public life. He and his second wife Judy moved to the Queensland bush, where they live a quiet existence on their remote rural property.

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Bob and Steve were as close as can be prior to Steve’s death in 2006. (Credit: Getty)

Despite maintaining he is retired, Bob still keeps busy. 

He’s currently lobbying against a disturbing social media trend that sees reckless “idiots” dangerously entering crocodile-infested waters to get a prized photo to post on TikTok and Instagram. 

He fears this foolish behaviour is jeopardising the welfare of crocodiles, particularly in Queensland.

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Bob is sadly estranged from his daughter in law and grandkids. (Credit: Getty)

In a rare interview with news.com.au last month, a feisty Bob didn’t hold back.

“What’s been happening is we’ve had stupid crazy people doing stupid things within crocodile territory – and the unfortunate part about that is a crocodile pays the ultimate price,” he said.

Guiding him gently behind the scenes is his wife Judy, who remains Bob’s staunchest supporter.

“Judy has watched Bob suffer, over the years, not seeing his grandkids [Robert and Bindi]. She has also mopped up the tears knowing they will likely never meet Bob’s great-granddaughter Grace,” the source explains. 

“Judy doesn’t want him to leave this world with regrets, so with a firm hand she’s helping him reclaim his beloved zoo.”

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