It’s been more than a decade since Steve Irwin’s life was tragically cut short, and while Terri still misses her late husband every day, she always has loved ones by her side.

By Emily Strohm
December 27, 2018 09:00 AM

It’s been more than a decade since Steve Irwin’s life was tragically cut short, and while Terri Irwin still misses her late husband every day, she always has loved ones by her side.

“It’s just surrounding yourself with great family and friends and people who will support you,” says Terri. “I really miss Steve but, but I’m not a lonely person.”

After rising to international fame on his wildlife documentary television series The Crocodile Hunter, Steve was working on an underwater film titled Ocean’s Deadliest when he was attacked by a stingray and died on Sept. 4, 2006, at age 44. At the time, their daughter Bindi was just 8 years old; their son Robert was only 2. The news came as a shock around the world.

Jason Ierace

Faced with the daunting task of running the zoo and raising two young children alone, Terri, 54, persevered. “It was a little bit terrifying to have to step up and take the till,” she recalls, “but I thought about it and said, ‘Let’s carry on as if Steve was still here.’”

RELATED: Bindi Irwin Opens Up About Ongoing Heartbreak Since Her Dad’s Death

Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: The Irwin Family streaming now on peopletv.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.

Dedicated to honoring Steve’s legacy, the family continues to expand the Australia Zoo while traveling the world to spread the message of their conservation nonprofit Wildlife Warriors. They also made their long-awaited return to television in October with a new series on Animal Planet Crikey! It’s the Irwins (Sundays at 8 p.m.)

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For Terri, finding love again isn’t a huge priority — but she’s not writing it off completely. “I think it’s really important to never say never about anything, but I’m really not looking,” she says, “I feel like 14 years with Steve was like 400 years of real life. It was the most epic, adventurous, amazing experience.”

(As for tabloid rumors linking her to Aussie pal Russell Crowe, Terri has laughed them off, saying Crowe is just “a great friend.”)

For the full story on the Irwin family, pick up the latest issue of People on newsstands Dec. 26.