Wildlife Warrior

TIME For Kids catches up with 12-year-old conservationist Bindi Irwin

Apr 15, 2011 | By TFK Kid Reporter Sahil Abbi

Wildlife advocate Bindi Irwin, 12, is working on a new book series, Bindi Wildlife Adventures, based on true stories from her life. The second book, Rescue, is out now. She hopes the stories motivate kids to get involved in conservation. TFK Kid Reporter Sahil Abbi spoke to the young conservationist about her new book series and what it's like to follow in the footsteps of her late father, Steve Irwin, also known as the Crocodile Hunter.

TFK Kid Reporter Sahil Abbi chats with kid conservationist Bindi Irwin.
COURTESY ABBI FAMILY
TFK Kid Reporter Sahil Abbi chats with kid conservationist Bindi Irwin.

When did you decide that you wanted to become a conservationist?

BINDI IRWIN:

I think from the day I was first hatched, pretty much. I've always wanted to be a conservationist. My mom and dad have both been conservationists for as long as they can remember as well. Many people think of conservation as protecting little woodland creatures. But ultimately conservation is about us. It's about people. Every time we lose an animal species, it's like losing a brick from the house. Pretty soon, the house just falls down. I think it's important to spread that message.

TFK:

Why did your family found the nonprofit organization Wildlife Warriors?

BINDI:

They first founded Wildlife Warriors in 2002 to help all sorts of animal projects that we have started all over the world. For instance, in Africa, we have a project with the cheetahs. What's happening with the cheetahs is that they will come in and eat some of the farmer's livestock. This upsets farmers who then try to kill cheetahs. It's really sad. It's not good for either side. So we came up with a program in which we breed big dogs called Anatolian Shepherds. These dogs protect the livestock from cheetahs. That costs about $5,000 a dog. We also put tracking devices around cheetahs' necks so that we know where they are. This way, we can alert farmers if a cheetah is getting too close to their livestock.

TFK:

What inspired you to begin the Wildlife Adventure series?

BINDI:

I want to share with kids the many fun adventures that we get to do. I also want to encourage kids to have their own adventures.

TFK:

What is your role in creating these books?

BINDI:

I'm the co-creator. That means my mom and I come up with ideas for the books and then work with the authors on the storylines. All of the books, as I said before, are based on our real life. So the first book, Trouble at the Zoo, is about my birthday at the zoo. In real life, I do have my birthdays at the zoo. It's a lot of fun. We bring a truckload of shaved ice into Australia Zoo and all the kids want to come and see it because it doesn't snow in Australia. It's a fun day when kids come and enjoy the zoo for free. I'm lucky that I get to share my birthday with them.

TFK:

In your book, a kid tries to steal an animal. Where did that idea come from?

BINDI:

Yes, that happened in Trouble at the Zoo. That idea came from the fact that some kids may like to take zoo animals home with them, but the animals belong where they are. They belong in the zoo where they're having a great life.

TFK:

How does it feel to follow in the footsteps of your father, Steve Irwin? Is it overwhelming?

BINDI:

I think it's wonderful. I want to carry on my dad's legacy. I think of myself as a teacher and I know my dad was a teacher too. I'm lucky that I'm not only talking to adults, but also to children. I think it's so important to empower kids because we are the next voters. We are the next decision makers, and we are the next generation making a difference on our planet.

TFK:

You're doing so much. Do you ever feel as though you're missing out on a normal life?

BINDI:

I'm really lucky to be absolutely honest. I have so many friends all over the world and I get to travel, I get to see new cultures, eat new foods and learn about new wildlife. I enjoy my life. I mean, I live in the middle of a zoo. Every morning, you have an alarm clock of birds and elephants and tigers and lemurs. It's unbelievable.

TFK:

Is there anything that you haven't done yet that you would like to do?

BINDI:

When I get older, I would like to tackle bigger issues. I would like to tackle even greater issues that are troubling our planet. We have a lot of problems. There are a lot of issues with illegal wildlife farming, for example.

TFK:

How does it feel to have such a large international audience?

BINDI:

I'm lucky that I have so many people who are listening to the message. I think it's wonderful to see so many people trying to make a change in their life. You can't do one or two things. You've got to try and make it your mission, even if it's just turning the tap off while you brush your teeth or watering your garden at night, or keeping a pool cover over your pool. It all helps.