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I was pleasantly shocked at how articulate, passionate about
animals, well versed and silly Bindi was.
ALEXANDRIA, VA. - Oh, Bindi.
As I made my way to the National Zoo a little over a month ago to chat with the
international kiddie-star Bindi Irwin, I was at a loss for expectations.
Would she be cool, would she be fun, would she know what in the world she was talking about and why she was in Washington?
Yes, Yes, and Yes.
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Bindi and a baby croc.
I was pleasantly shocked at how articulate, passionate about animals, well versed and silly Bindi was.
The precocious Bindi and I rode in a deluxe golf cart from the Panda Exhibit to the Reptile House and chatted along the way.
We talked about her father's work and legacy, the fight her family is in save their zoo, her new movie FREE WILLY and even local-science-minded-kids-music The Swamp Stomp Boogie.
Bindi, daughter of the late, great Croc Hunter Steve Irwin, visited and toured the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, with journos like me in tow.
The tour began at the “Fugifilm Giant Panda Habitat” where Bindi visited its giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. Next, Bindi visited the “Reptile Discovery Center” to view some of her favorite animals and learn about the global amphibian crisis.
Bindi, 12, has tried her hand at acting, singing and even rapping. She told me that she espouses the same conservationist philosophy as her parents. Her first name comes from the name of her father's favorite female crocodile at the Australia Zoo; in addition, Bindi is an Aboriginal word that means little girl.
Bindi began appearing on television shows as early as age two. She appeared regularly in her father's television shows, including The Crocodile Hunter Diaries, and also appeared in the 2002 film The Wiggles: Wiggly Safari in a credited cast role.
Irwin was the presenter of a 26-part wildlife documentary kids show called Bindi the Jungle Girl, a production of the Discovery Kids television network. Her father was filmed in many of the early shows before his death in 2006, when production was temporarily put on hold. The series premiered in June 2007 on Discovery Kids.
She hosted a special about her father called My Daddy the Crocodile Hunter. She also starred in a child fitness DVD in which she sang and danced with a group called Bindi Kidfitness. She made a hip-hop album called Trouble In The Jungle. Bindi and The Crocmen sang "Trouble In The Jungle" on The Today Show in November 2007. Bindi says that she's currently learning how to play the piano.
Bindi said that creative writing was her favorite subject and math is her least favorite. She also said that she enjoys being homeschooled because she and her teachers were such good friends.
Bindi's father, Steve Irwin, was killed by a stingray in September 2006 while setting up to shoot ocean reef footage for a show that would include segments with Bindi, because weather prevented him from filming footage for a different show. Steve Irwin had previously made it clear that he supported Bindi's rise to fame, claiming "I just want to be co-star to my daughter. "
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Bindi and a koala bear.
In front of a crowd of 5000 and a worldwide television audience of more than 300 million viewers Bindi read the following statement at her father's public memorial service:
"My daddy was my hero – he was always there for me when I needed him. He listened to me and taught me so many things, but most of all he was fun. I know that Daddy had an important job. He was working to change the world so everyone would love wildlife like he did. He built a hospital to help animals and he bought lots of land to give animals a safe place to live. He took me and my brother and my mum with him all the time. We filmed together, caught crocodiles together and loved being in the bush together. I don't want Daddy's passion to ever end. I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did. I had the best daddy in the whole world and I will miss him every day. When I see a crocodile I will always think of him and I know that Daddy made this zoo so everyone could come and learn to love all the animals. Daddy made this place his whole life, now it's our turn to help Daddy."
Bindi will star as Kirra in Free Willy 4: Escape from Pirate's Cove due to be released this spring.
In her feature film debut, she stars as Kirra, a young girl sent reluctantly to stay with her grandfather in Cape Town. When a young orca whale, Willy, is trapped by a storm in their run down water theme park, Kirra slowly finds herself adapting to the new surroundings and an ever-growing friend.
But when Willy starts to outgrow the theme park, her grandfather is tempted to sell Willy to an unscrupulous competitor. The race is on for Kirra and her friends to find Willy’s family and return him to the ocean. See more of the film here.
CLICK HERE to enjoy my video and some spectacular photo of our "hang" with Bindi!