A decade after the passing of The Crocodile Hunter star Steve Irwin, his daughter Bindi Irwin continues to see his legacy everywhere – including recognizing aspects of her dad in herself and her younger brother.
Attending the first-ever Steve Irwin Gala Dinner in Los Angeles to raise funds for Wildlife Warriors – the organization founded by the late Australian conversationalist, animal expert and television personality, who died in 2006 – the 17-year-old told reporters she was thrilled to unite her father’s supporters with the friends she made during her Mirror Ball-winning 2015 stint on Dancing With the Stars. (Her dance partner Derek Hough attended the bash alongside more of the show’s professional dancers and host Tom Bergeron emceed the evening.)
“It’s absolutely wonderful to see everything really come together,” said Bindi. “I think it’s been a huge process of planning, but we’ve loved every minute of it. We wanted to really make sure we captured the event perfectly. Everything that Dad stood for has kind of been showcased tonight, and that means a lot. So we wanted to make sure it was absolutely perfect.”
“For me, tonight feels so good because it’s honestly like my extended family is all here. It just feels so complete,” she added. “I have my beautiful family. My wonderful boyfriend [Chandler Powell] is here tonight; our Dancing with the Stars family; Olivia Newton John is here. It’s just everybody that I love so much, and that our family loves so much. So it is the best event, and I think that Dad’s spirit is really kind of living on in all of us.”
Bindi also sees aspects of her father reflected in both herself and her 12-year-old brother Robert. “I think that Dad was so wonderful because he was like this human hurricane – I can see a lot of that in myself,” she told PEOPLE. I’m not a very patient person. If I want to do something, I have to do it right now! I kind of share the same love for all wildlife, and all wild places. I think those similarities are really, really strong.
“But we are different in some ways,” she added. “I mean, Dad is not exactly a dancer! Mom pretty much cleared that up. She said at their wedding was no dancing, because Dad’s idea of dancing is a lot like Robert’s idea of dancing, which is the sprinkler and the shopping trolley.”
“I see the determination with Bindi, that she was just like Steve,” agreed Bindi’s mother, Terri. “Nothing would stop Steve when his mind was set on something, and Bindi’s a bit like that as well.
“I think that really helped her with Dancing with the Stars,” added Terri, “because no matter how challenging or tiring it got behind the scenes, it was just living for that two-hour moment when you could showcase your message and what you’ve accomplished. Steve was like that, too … but he was also very childlike and fun with his enthusiasm and passion, and I see that in both Bindi and Robert.”
Related Video: Bindi Irwin’s Emotional Tribute to Father Steve
Terri said that physically her son is nearly identical to his father.
“Robert was about four years old, and I showed him this picture, and I go, ‘Guess who this is?’ And he goes, ‘It’s me!’ It was a picture of his dad when he was about 4 years old. So the physical look-alike is amazing … and he’s got a really brilliant mind, and Steve was like that.”
“I didn’t realize until really recently that Dad was actually also an avid photographer,” added Robert. “I’ve been into photography for years and years and years. But he actually shot with film, obviously, back in the day. So that’s a true art. It’s really incredible that he kind of took some of the same passion that I have.”
Bindi said she’s also moved whenever she encounters someone whose passion for protecting the interest of animals was inspired by her father.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “It’s so incredible to see so many people who kind of understand our message and our story. And I don’t think we really felt it or knew how many people were involved with our work until Dad passed away. And we were just flooded. We were overwhelmed with so much support.”
“I think that it does mean the world, because we are here with a message and a purpose, and our reasoning is to really spread that message of wildlife and conservation,” she continued. “To have Dad’s message reach so many people – that’s exactly what we’ve always wanted, and it does mean everything.”
“As a family, we are really lucky because we support each other’s strengths,” she explained. “My family has always told me to just believe in myself and I’ll be able to undertake and accomplish anything.”