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Animals & Wildlife

Robert Irwin honors his father's legacy—wrestling crocs and teaching us to respect nature

crocodile hunter, nature

Images from the Australia Zoo and Robert Irwin.

Steve Irwin was just one of those too-good-for-this-world celebrities. For me, he’s right up there with David Bowie, Dolly Parton and Betty White. Though his methods were unconventional, Irwin found his own wild way of bringing the natural world to the masses, with unbridled passion and enthusiasm.

As he wrestled with dangerous beasts, we got up close and personal with some of Mother Earth’s most misunderstood, learning that there’s so much more to love than fear. His moniker might have been The Crocodile Hunter, but he was definitely more of a wildlife warrior.

Steve’s son Robert Irwin recently posted a video to his Instagram, and man, is this kid not only the spitting image of his father, he also honors Steve’s legacy of providing wildlife education and promoting conservation … all while nearly being eaten by a giant reptile. Proving that boldness never really goes out of style.


In a recent teaser video for the latest season finale of Animal Planet’s “Crikey! It’s the Irwins” series, Robert Irwin goes in, up close and personal, for his first feeding with Casper, a massive leucistic (completely pale) saltwater crocodile.

Like most crocs, Casper is wild, ferocious and territorial. “Since dad first got Casper … he’s had that instinct,” Robert tells us.

Robert will need to see if Casper is happy in his new enclosure by seeing if he strikes.

Meat in hand, Robert stomps on the ground, sending vibrations over to Casper, who definitely gets the message. As he lunges out of the water, Robert jokes, “Oh yeah, he’s keen” before we get an aerial view of a high-speed crocodile chase and the video abruptly ends. It is a teaser, after all.

This might seem like a piece of theater, but there’s more to it than that. As Robert points out, this activity is actually for the crocodile’s happiness and well-being.

Robert’s caption reads, “We prioritise natural behaviour with our crocs. By getting in their enclosures with them, and letting them put on those huge strikes from the water’s edge, they get to use all of their predatory instincts and they just love it!”

Don’t just take Rob’s word for it. As Basic Biology states, inherently stealthy crocodiles “ambush their prey as they drink from the water’s edge.”

In addition to facilitating this hunting method, many zoos and conservation institutes meticulously design their crocodile enclosures to match the same environments found in nature; everything from sandy pool bottoms to mimic the bottom of a lake to natural visual barriers like fallen trees.

The Australia Zoo, owned by the Irwins, is itself one of the world’s leading research centers dedicated to studying crocodile behavior. According to the zoo’s website, the conservation organization regards Steve's capture and study techniques as the “world’s best to this day.”

I mean, just looking at some of his greatest catches, the man did have a knack for it.

Robert seems to be following in those footsteps. I’m so here for it.

To quote Steve, “the message is simple: love and conserve our wildlife.” With the same genuine heart, fearless love and unbeatable positivity, Robert’s work (and really, the work of the entire Irwin family) keeps that message alive.

All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

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A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
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