On Saturday 24th September 2016, the Bob Irwin Wildlife & Conservation Foundation Inc hosted one heck of a surprise for the one and only Bob Irwin.
We’re good at keeping secrets!
150 people and ten animals gathered at Aussie World on the Sunshine Coast coming from right across Australia to pay tribute to Bob and the father and son legacy that he created with his late son Steve. Lifelong friends, former colleagues and friends from within the wildlife industry were all in on the surprise for this very moving night which saw Aussie World’s Shed venue converted into a replica ‘Camp Chilli’ for the evening.
Hosted by the wonderful Michael Beatty from the RSPCA and Totally Wild’s Ranger Stacey, the night was a true celebration of Bob Irwin. A Plumber from Melbourne who packed it all in to start his dream of building a reptile park and following his passion. Since this time, that decision he made has gone on to inspire millions of people around the world on nature conservation. For many people in the room, and who had sent messages from all over the world, that legacy has gone on to ignite a spark in them to work with wildlife and the environment in big and small ways.
We had special guest speakers Daniel and William Clarke who are saving the rainforests of Borneo and brought the room to tears, fourteen-year-old wildlife warrior Jack Jenkins from Zoo to You, tributes from former members of Bob and Steve’s croc team, a hilarious and touching video package from John Stainton and countless other talks from people who wanted to say thanks to Bob for inspiring a new generation of passionate wildlife conservationists. There was so much passion in that room, we could have started a fire!
Wildlife HQ were on site to bring along some gorgeous animals to meet and greet guests. They later talked about their inspirational story of how a group of eight keepers moved an entire zoo. 250 animals in 30 days to keep their animal family together.
Mark Townend and Michael Beatty from RSPCA Queensland made a special presentation to Bob on the evening announcing the dedication of the reptile ward at their Wacol Wildlife Hospital in Bob’s honour. The wildlife hospital has an intake of around 22,000 patients per year.
Bob was also presented a tribute book filled with telegrams and anecdotes from hundreds of people whose passion he has helped people to follow. From former colleages and employees to people within the wildlife industry, so many people wanted the opportunity to say thanks to Bob.
The night also featured a special acoustic song dedication from Woodford local Josh Rennie-Hynes who has just received a glowing review in Rolling Stone Magazine for his latest album Furthermore. We also welcomed back the beautiful sounds of Matt James- a big part of our zoo history too!
We would like to thank everyone who turned out to celebrate this memorable evening and for all of the contractors, performers, speakers and friends who pitched in to make the night happen. It wouldn’t have been possible without you all and thanks to everyone involved it will be etched in our hearts and minds for many years to come. Bob sent out a heartfelt thank you following the event:
“Thank you all for coming. I am really overwhelmed by what lengths everyone went to in order to be there on Saturday, I was a bit embarrassed actually. It was such a special evening for me personally and it will stay with me for a very long time. Not just getting together with some very special people again, but in drawing inspiration from so many of those wonderful stories about what others are doing for our planet. You really do give me enthusiasm to keep on ticking along for as long as I can. You have made me realise how important it is to surround myself with like minded people. How lucky we are to know so many dedicated, selfless people out there on the front-line of our environment. I only hope many more people out there can do their small part and we can continue to support each other to help one another achieve those things. People always stop me in the street and say, “Bob, I’m only one person, I can’t really do anything.” Well those people are wrong, because as you saw on Saturday night one person can actually do a lot. I know Steve would be so proud to know that his legacy lives on and his message is still getting out there. That makes me feel really, really proud. I can’t thank you all enough. You are all very special people indeed.”