Having won the 21st season of Dancing with the Stars, Bindi Irwin has stepped out of her late father Steve’s shadow to become a celebrity in her own right. And if any more proof of her popularity was needed, then look no further than a recent Instagram post Bindi made, which practically broke the internet.
Way back when, however, Bindi was very much a sidekick to her dad, the immensely popular TV “Crocodile Hunter” Steve. He and his wife Terri had named their daughter after a beloved crocodile at the Australia Zoo, a park that had been in Steve’s family since the start of the ’70s.
And it was thanks to her father’s attention-grabbing antics that Bindi grew up in the spotlight. What’s more, those antics – as seen in shows such as The Crocodile Hunter and Croc Files – made Steve a household name all over the world. His animal-loving daughter, meanwhile, would make her first on-screen appearance at just two years old.
And as well as appearing in her family’s TV series, Bindi also showed up in 2002’s The Wiggles: Wiggly Safari. She then landed her very own Discovery Kids show, Bindi the Jungle Girl. Tragically, though, while filming for that series was taking place, she would experience the trauma of losing a parent.
Specifically, Steve would pass away after a tragic accident during the making of Bindi the Jungle Girl. After taking some shots of a six-foot long stingray, he then went behind the ray to film it swimming off into the ocean. Suddenly, however, the fish began a frenzied attack on Steve with its tail. During this, the famous conservationist was pierced in the chest – and shortly after the incident, Steve was declared dead.
And despite only being eight at the time of her father’s death, Bindi delivered a self-penned speech at his memorial service, which was being televised to millions of viewers. What’s more, she received a standing ovation from the 5,000-strong crowd in attendance for her emotional tribute. TV Week readers would later crown her speech as the small-screen moment of the year.
But that wouldn’t be the only time that Bindi would speak about her late dad. In June 2007, for instance, she hosted a one-off US television documentary, My Daddy, the Crocodile Hunter, that acted as a tribute to Steve and his life and work. The budding singer also paid homage to him on her second album Trouble in the Jungle and spoke about their close relationship on various chat shows.
In addition, Bindi’s own career started to take off at around this point. In 2008, for example, the nine-year-old became the youngest person in Daytime Emmy history to win the Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series award. By the end of the year, moreover, she’d also released a second fitness DVD, Bindi Kidfitness Volume 2 Jungle Dance Party. Then, in 2010, she made her acting debut as Aussie girl Kirra in Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove.
And Bindi would remain a regular screen presence throughout the following decade. From 2012 to 2015 she hosted Bindi’s Bootcamp, a game show featuring wild animals filmed at her family’s zoo. She also took over from Abigail Breslin as the titular character in the sequel to hit children’s movie Nim’s Island and guested on Canadian TV show My Babysitter’s a Vampire to boot.
And in 2014 the Australian Geographic Society would even name Bindi Young Conservationist of the Year. Just six months previously, however, Bindi and her family had caused outrage when they announced a partnership with SeaWorld. At that time, the company was facing allegations of animal abuse, with even Bindi’s naturalist grandfather criticizing SeaWorld’s practices.
However, Bindi turned public opinion around in 2015 when she joined the season 21 cast of Dancing with the Stars. Partnered up with Derek Hough, Bindi achieved a show record of eight perfect scores before being crowned the winner. This was all despite the fact that she was just 17 at the time. In fact, due to her age, she had to receive a special license from the California courts to participate.
But despite this whirlwind of activity in her teens, Bindi didn’t neglect her education. At the age of 16, for instance, she became a student at trade school TAFE Queensland East Coast. There, the multi-talented teen has taken classes for Certificate III qualifications in both business and tourism.
And Bindi has also found the time for a love life, too. In time, she began dating Chandler Powell, a professional wakeboarder who, reportedly, had always been obsessed with the Irwins. Bindi had given her future beau and his family a guided tour of Australia Zoo, after which he asked the zoo if he could write to her.
But Bindi and Chandler’s early relationship was far from the stuff that dreams are made of. The pair only saw each other every couple of months, after all. And every time they actually managed to get together, they were chaperoned by Bindi’s mother and brother Robert. Furthermore, according to Terri, Chandler was actually more interested in hanging out with Robert than with Bindi to begin with.
However, things gradually developed. Indeed, eventually smitten Bindi was declaring that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with the sportsman. She also claimed that her father would have approved of Chandler. Steve had once stipulated that anyone wanting to date his daughter would have to swim across a terrifying pond full of crocodiles first – a challenge Chandler passed with flying colors.
In fact, Bindi’s belief about her father’s approval of Chandler goes much deeper. According to reports, she thinks that somehow Steve engineered her meeting with Chandler from the afterlife, to help look after his daughter and continue his animal welfare efforts. Whatever the truth behind that assertion, though, by 2017 it seemed as if the relationship was flourishing. That year, Chandler even moved into his very own quarters at the Irwins’ Australia Zoo.
And Bindi hasn’t stopped gushing about Chandler in public since, regularly taking to Instagram to declare her love for him. One particular post reads, for example, “Thank you for being such a light in my life… I love your kindness, your patience and your strength. You are an extraordinary human being and a true blessing. #ForeverMySunshine.”
In fact, some fans believed that things had become more serious between the pair following a series of Instagram posts in mid-2017. The pair first got tongues wagging when they embarked on a romantic trip to Las Vegas; however, Bindi’s people later issued a statement denying that the lovebirds had made the journey there to get hitched.
Then more rumors began to surface when Bindi posted an image of the couple wearing identical green Ring Pops. And the position of the candy on Bindi’s hand was what really got tongues wagging: specifically, she had placed it on the very finger on which one would usually wear an engagement ring. However, it turns out that the pair were just being playful: they were only wearing the makeshift jewelry to celebrate International Diamond Day.
And Bindi would later confess on the Today Show that the pair were indeed just being mischievous. “I don’t think it’s a real engagement if you can eat your ring,” she joked. However, some Bindi followers still believe that it’s indeed only a matter of time before the besotted couple finally walk down the aisle together.