By Luaine Lee
Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Terri Irwin says that when she first met Steve she never thought anything would come of it. After all, they lived 7,000 miles apart.
It’s not every day you can stop off at a tiny zoo in the middle of nowhere and find the love your life. But that happened to Terri Irwin. Irwin is the widow of the famous “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, who was killed 12 years ago by a poisonous stingray.
Terri Irwin is carrying on his work which began, she says, when she visited Queensland, Australia, with some friends 27 years ago. “I was kind of asleep in the car. And they said, ‘You want to stop and see this little wildlife park?’ And I thought, ‘Oh, that’s probably kind of sad. I don’t know if I want to go in.’
“Then I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t want to not see it, I’ve come all this way.’ So I went in,” she recalls.
“And it opened up to small but beautiful grounds, with peacocks and kangaroos wandering around. And there was a man at a demonstration talking about crocodiles. And he said things about crocodiles I didn’t know. Like he said they’re really beautiful mothers, they’re very caring toward their offspring and very compassionate toward each other. When crocodiles find a mate, they’re very kind to each other. I thought, ‘I never would’ve thought that about crocodiles.’ I went and talked to this man some more. And we ended up talking all day. And, of course, that was Steve.”
At that time Terri had no interest in leaving her home in Oregon and her job as head of her family’s construction-related business, a position she’d assumed at 20. Always goal-oriented, Irwin had managed to double up on her mortgage payments, winning her home free and clear at 25. (She’d majored in business but always nurtured a passion for animals.)