Robert Irwin is our favorite teenage-environmentalist; whether he is taking care of the Australia Zoo, been invited to some of the most famous talk shows, or starring Crikey! It’s The Irwins, his own family TV program, he always takes time to remind us we all share the responsibility to be kind to each other and to every living thing because it is in our hands to save the planet from an environmental catastrophe.
This time, Robert Irwin took time to have this conversation to talk about his passions, new projects, the fashion industry, and so much more. So, I hope you read this article and get inspired to raise your voice for the good causes that move you and remember to do your best to embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle, and Earth got to be the clean and safe home we all deserve.
The Irwin family values
Q: Irwin has become one of the most famous family names around the globe, especially for the legacy of the beloved Steve Irwin, your father. How does it make feel been part of that legacy of wildlife, conservation, and family?
I feel immensely honored to continue my dad’s huge legacy alongside my amazing family. For me, growing up I always knew that wildlife and conservation would be part of my life, I think it’s in my DNA. From the time I can remember my dad instilled in me a huge passion for the natural world and all wildlife, and he’ll always be my biggest inspiration. He was the most influential voice in environmental protection, inspiring the entire world, and now alongside my mum and sister, we get to live and work at Australia Zoo carrying on his mission. It is certainly not a common lifestyle growing up in a zoo, but every day is a new adventure and so much fun.
Q: You have been in the media since you were a little boy, yet you were homeschooled, lots of people around the world feel like they know you. Thus, how were you affected by that kind of duality between the private and public aspects of your life?
I feel like being in the public eye and being in front of the camera is something that I have grown up with and it’s just a part of my life. However, as I have gotten older I have really started to realize the responsibility and opportunity that having a large platform affords, and now I feel really lucky to be able to reach a wide audience with an important message. I am so passionate about speaking of big issues like climate change or habitat destruction and hopefully inspiring other young people to use their voices for good. Of course, being in the public eye can have its challenges, but I know that no matter what, I always have my wonderful and close-knit family to guide me and help me navigate life. I am super fortunate for that.
Q: You work hard while doing something you really love and share that experience with your family; but, what do you do in your leisure time?
My work really doesn’t feel like work – I might be feeding a massive saltwater crocodile one day, and caring for a koala the next. It is a pretty exciting and rewarding job! But when I do get a bit of time for myself I really love getting out into nature and enjoying my hobbies. I love mountain biking, I am an avid skateboarder and usually skate around the hills of the zoo every afternoon when it closes, I’m big into surfing, and I will also definitely jump on a motorbike or ATV when the opportunity presents itself.
Passion for life and preservation
Q: In different opportunities you have been promoting reading; you even have been involved with the Robert Irwin Dinosaur Hunter book series. What can you tell us about that passion? Are there more books coming soon?
I was really excited to help write and illustrate a book series to engage young people to get into reading. I think that it is a very important and fantastic thing to do from an early age and I had so much fun creating these exciting, fictional stories. And at the moment I am actually in the early stages of creating a photography book, featuring images that I have taken and stories about my love for this art.
Q: Other of your biggest passions are photography and music; could you tell us more about these artistic ways of expressing yourself?
Art has really become a big part of my life recently. Photography is my biggest passion and it’s allowed me to travel the world and capture images sharing the beauty of nature in all corners of the globe. It has also been my personal way of continuing my family’s mission because I can tell important stories about environmental issues through my images. Music has only just recently come into my life. During the Covid shutdown, I found an old guitar and started learning to play some chords. A dear friend, Russell Crowe, was kind enough to gift me one of his stage guitars and that really sparked a passion for the instrument. I’m no Rockstar on a guitar by any means, but I really love strumming out some songs by a campfire. Lastly, I have also taken up landscape painting as well. I have found it to be a great escape, a really calming hobby and it’s a very fun way to express my perspective on the world around me.
Q: In a world where every people could be whatever they want, why everyone should be an environmentalist?
It is so fantastic that absolutely anyone can be an environmentalist and create positive change for the planet. Even if you might not be able to dedicate your whole life to it, like my family and I, just doing your part to live more sustainably can make a huge difference. By choosing to support businesses and industries that work toward sustainable manufacturing, recycling more, going solar if you can, and starting a conversation with your peers you can do a lot of good. If everybody does something, that’s when real change will happen. It truly doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, you can help the planet. I would also encourage young people to check out our non-profit organization, ‘Wildlife Warriors’ and especially our ‘Visionary Wildlife Warriors’ branch that encourages youth to get involved with awesome initiatives raising funds and awareness for the vital conservation projects we support. Right now, more than ever before, the world needs our help.
We can do better
Q: As you certainly know, the fashion industry has been accused of hurting the planet due to the environmental impact produced during many years, what are your thoughts about that ecological risk and the growing movement of brands and fashion houses committed to do better and be eco-friendly?
I think it is really promising and exciting to see so many big names in the fashion industry leading the way in sustainability and working toward being more eco-friendly. As our population expands and the demand increases year upon year, it is crucial that we start to think more outside the box and work together to come up with better ways of meeting this demand. I am so happy to see that brands are finally straying away from the use of wildlife skins for fashion accessories – I believe that croc skin and snakeskin belongs to the animal. This was something that my dad was very passionate and vocal about and I am sure he would be so happy to see the companies that are doing the right thing by the natural world. There is still a long way to go, but there is certainly movement in the right direction.
Q: What is your message to all those teenagers who are thinking about pursuing a career in fashion, arts, or social media?
I absolutely encourage young people to follow their passions and work hard for what they want to achieve. Whether it’s within social media, fashion, arts, conservation, law, business, we need youth to bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to these fields. Fashion and the arts are particularly special careers because they allow young people to really express themselves and tell their story. These days, there are also so many new ways for us all to increase our voice and raise our platform to reach a wider audience, and social media is one of them. It is so important that we use it to spread positivity and kindness and strive for unity. There is still a long road ahead of us, and many environmental challenges that we face now but the more young people with the drive to make a difference, the better.
Q: What other plans do you have for the future?
Well, first of all on a personal note I am about to start uncle duties, and I am so ecstatic about that! It feels like such an exciting new chapter in our lives, and I can’t wait for all the fun adventures with my niece. But as well as that, I am really looking forward to a very busy 2021, with a new season of our Animal Planet show, ‘Crikey! It’s The Irwins’ starting, more filming with our Discovery Channel family, the launch of our brand new YouTube channel, busy times at Australia Zoo with new animals and exciting zoo updates, and keeping up with all the conservation projects we support worldwide. Busy times ahead.
Q: Anything else you would like to share with Vanity Teen?
I’d just love to say a big thanks for inviting me to talk to your audience and for addressing the importance of sustainability and the environment. Fashion is huge and it is so good to see young people entering this field and hopefully wanting to help make a difference through this amazing industry.
Before we go
I presume you will never find a kinder person than Robert Irwin; we all like him because he has been using his kindness to spread love and respect for the planet and every living creature.
We also cherish the ways he keeps the memory of his father alive and never ceases to encourage others to choose preservation as the most important thing we can do to take care of this planet that serves us as a single big house where we all can live as a caring family.
Let us remember his words and if you choose to pursue fashion, media-related activities, or whatever your dreams are, do what you love, choose benevolence, and protect the planet.