You know, it’s not often that I become nervous around a 10-year-old kid. But today, Robert Irwin’s uber calm persona unsettled me! Barely half my size, his physique is hardly what one would call foreboding but when he talks, there is such a presence about him that puts me in awe and makes me feel so small at the same time. But Robert is wonderful! I’m sure he’d have never meant for me to feel that way. Beneath his youthful exterior lies an adventurous soul, wise-beyond-his-years and ever so composed, articulate and fun-loving in the limelight – the perfect show host if you ask me!
The aura of greatness was tripled – with Bindi and Terri present! But thankfully, I kept my jangled nerves in check long enough to rattle off a few questions alongside a journalist from the Weekender! Here’s select excerpts of their responses to our questions 😉
Robert: “This year, we just completed shooting ‘Wild but True’ which is my new show that is all about biomimicry. Biomimicry basically means how some things that have actually evolved in nature have inspired some really cool inventions in science and in our man-made world. So it’s a really, really cool concept and yea, it’s a really, really fun show. So you’ve got a lot of cool experiments in there! One of the things that I really enjoyed was when I got to spend a day with monster trucks. You know kangaroos, how it’s so amazing how far they can jump. The reason why they can jump so far is because they can store and recycle kinetic energy in their elongated Achilles tendon. So basically that allows them to jump really, really far and make their next jump further and more efficient. So that kind of principle has basically inspired a lot of off-road vehicles. Of course one off-road vehicle that has really big suspension that’s quite similar to a kangaroo’s is a monster truck. So we headed over to this really cool spot where they had all these monster trucks. We got to spend a whole day riding in a monster truck. And it was really fun!”
Robert: “To be honest, I’d probably check out the native wildlife. The wildlife here is absolutely incredible. And it’s really amazing. It’s not just a beautiful city, for wherever you look, there’s always greenery, whether it’s a small park or a large national park. We really love it here, especially the Singapore Zoo, MacRitchie Reservoir Park.”
Bindi: “The Asian water lizards are there (in MacRitchie).”
Terri: “Unlike Singapore, there’s no squirrels in Australia.”
Bindi: “Yea, and seeing one here kinda makes you jump!”
Terri, you’re done a wonderful job raising Bindi and Robert. They’re very polite and respectful and are clearly handling the success and attention that they’re getting really well. What did you do or what are you doing that’s made them so level-headed? What would you say to a parent who wants the same of their children – to grow up with a respect for life – for animals and people alike?
Terri: “I’m very blessed to have a couple of really good kids, and also just to be able to travel with them. Not every parent has that luxury to always be with their children. So having said that, I think it’s really about giving the kids the respect that you want to have from them as well. So you’re still the parent, you’re not the friend. And there’s still that respect issue. But instead of saying “No”, I’ll explain what’s going on. And without being depressing, I’ll include them in what’s going on. I don’t want to them to worry about things, but I want them to understand what’s going on in the world. There seems to be this tendency to thinking kids are a different species than adults. While I appreciate that at the end of the day, every parent-child relationship is different, at the end of the day, if you just love your kids, really genuinely love your kids, they know that.”
Robert: “Whatever we do, we’re so lucky because mum always supports us. Like I’ve just taken up mountain biking so she supports me with that. And no matter what we do, mum’s always there to support us and help us. So we definitely really, really appreciate it. And I think that’s the reason we can do what we do because we have such an awesome environment.”
Bindi: “It’s having that support. And for us all, we all need that support whether its friends or family, I think that for us, most of our family are blood-related. And it is finding those people who will love and support you no matter what. So it’s knowing that whatever happens in our life, mum will love us unconditionally. You know as kids or adults you’ll always mess up sometimes. But you know if there was ever a time that we’d mess up, mum would always be there.”
Bindi, you’re clearly coming into your own. You’ve done the big stuff with presencing at the Ellen Show, the Late Show with David Letterman, Oprah and Larry King Live. You’ve had your own clothing range, done performances at G’day USA in LA and NYC, amidst a whole list of notable achievements. You clearly have the leadership to do what it takes on the big stage. But what’s the legacy that you plan to start building and one day leave behind. What is it you want to be remembered for?
Bindi: “For me, I want to spend my whole life doing everything I can to spread the message of wildlife and conservation. And my hope, my goal is to inspire as many people as I can along the way. I want to leave the legacy of speaking about issues that are usually ignored. For example the non-consumptive use of wildlife, our expanding human population – issues that tend to be the elephant in the room that everyone ignores. So as a young girl, it’s often that ‘I’m one person, how can I have a voice?’ ‘Young, what can I do!’ But it’s choosing to stand up for what I believe in.
“And for me, through these last couple of years, I’ve actually started talking about bigger issues like our human population – our human population continues to expand at such a rapid rate. How can the poor have any improved lifestyles with more people to share fewer resources. So there’s no one answer to that topic. But it’s time that we start discussing these issues. And whether people agree or disagree with my opinion, at least we’re talking about it. So I hope to make a positive impact on planet earth and leave a legacy for standing up for issues, and standing for people who might not necessarily be noticed.”
Terri: “If I lived everyday if it were my last, I’d be really chubby. I’d be like: ‘This is my last day, I think I’ll just eat pizza!’”
Robert, we loved the way you did two science shows at Science Centre Singapore on 4 November. They were simple yet memorable for everyone who witnessed the 3 science experiments in each of them. We were really impressed that you knew so much at such a young age. What helps you understand and remember what you have learnt? Are there are tips you can share for kids out there?
Robert: “The best way to learn is not only seeing it through a text book or getting a lecture. I’m all for that – absolutely love that. But I think the best way to learn something is to actually go out and experience it and to be able to touch and feel a concrete material. To be able to learn more about crocodiles, you can go out and even if you just visit your local zoo, you can see it and experience it first-hand. That’s how you’re going to remember that knowledge and remember it for the rest of your life. And that’s why I’m so lucky, growing up in a zoo and being able to travel so much. I’ve been able to experience some really amazing things. And I think when you’re put in such an incredible position, I’m very lucky I’ve been able to learn a lot through my amazing family and through the amazing adventures that I get to have.
“I really get to see things first hand and I really get to learn a lot more. I’m so lucky to be able to talk about these issues to so many people. That’s why I really love to travel and be on TV and on media because that gives you a platform. And once you have that platform, even if you are doing a movie, even if you’re Russell Crowe who has not a whole lot to do with wildlife, if you can build that platform, then your voice can be heard and can be recognised easier so that more people will want to get involved and you can reach a larger audience and that’s why I’m so lucky to be able to do this. And I certainly love it a lot. Definitely.”
Terri: “And it’s an interesting point… The Science Centre is like that in that it’s a 3-dimensional world of learning. It brings that exploration and discovery and enthusiasm, and it’s so wonderful.”
Robert: “Science is curiosity. If you have a passion and a curiosity, then you’ll definitely feel more passionate about things.”
Neat responses eh? Greatness certainly comes in all shapes, colours and sizes! The Irwins are certainly doing their nation proud, doing what they do with such “passion and curiosity”. We wish them every success in all their conservation efforts and look forward to WILD BUT TRUE which premieres on Discovery Kids (StarHub Ch 308, Singtel Mio Ch 230) on 2 Dec at 5pm!
At Robert Irwin, “Crikey! What a little beauty you are!”
Science Centre Singapore had an exclusive opportunity to meet the Irwins on 5 November 2014 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel – thanks to the wonderful staff (Nadia, Charmaine, Fiona) at Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd as well as Germaine Pereira from the MSL Group. We also thank them for access to the images used above which belong to Discovery Communications, LLC. And most of all, we thank the team – Robert, Bindi and Terri as well as Adam and Shaheeda for generously accommodating our interview!