Robert Irwin has celebrated his 17th birthday in style, surrounded by animals, family, friends and a mammoth diprotodon cake at Australia Zoo.
The zoo let children in for free in honour of the youngest Irwin, who took to social media on the weekend to ask people to come and enjoy the animals.
“As 2020 comes to an end, I think we’re all looking back at what a crazy year it was … It’s been very challenging for all of us,” he said in a video on Sunday.
“I wanted to reach out to all of you to let you know you’re all invited (to my birthday celebrations) … Please do stop by the zoo.
“There will be activities, free birthday cake and ice cream. Hopefully it’s a day for you all to relax with some animals amid this crazy time.
“There’s no better way to unwind than a day spent with our beautiful family of animals.”
Hundreds of visitors packed the Australia Zoo Crocoseum to wish him a happy birthday and watch him feed the semi-aquatic reptiles.
Robert was just two when his father Steve died after being pierced in the chest by a stingray barb.
Sister Bindi, who is 23 weeks pregnant, penned a touching tribute to her brother on Instagram, writing “Happy birthday to my amazing brother! Your kind heart and fantastic sense of humour makes my every day. Our baby girl is going to love her ‘funcle’ (fun uncle) so very much. You’re one of the brightest lights the world has ever seen. I’ll always be here for you. Love you!”
Mother Terri shared two photos of Robert side-by-side – one of him as a four-year-old in a hollow tree, the other of him as a 17-year-old in the same tree.
“I remember the hollow tree that was your castle when you were four,” she wrote.
“Today you are seventeen. May the simple things in life always bring you happiness. Every day you make me happy. And proud. And I will love you beyond forever.”
Bindi’s husband Chandler Powell, who is a close friend of Robert’s, also shared a touching birthday message alongside a photo of the Irwin siblings and himself holding a mini Australia Zoo work shirt.
“Wishing a happy 17th birthday to my awesome brother-in-law,” Chandler wrote.
“Whether it’s going for a surf, feeding a crocodile or late night spotlighting, I’m always grateful for all of the adventures we have! Can’t wait to celebrate with you today, Robert.”