Terri, 55, told Us Weekly exclusively ahead of the season 2 premiere of Crikey! It’s the Irwins on Saturday, October 5, that she first locked eyes with the former Crocodile Hunter host at the Australia Zoo — the same place her daughter, 21, met her fiancé, 22, decades later.
“We weren’t real young when we met. These guys were really young,” Terri said, referring to Bindi, 21, and Powell, 22. “But Steve was, like, 29 and I was 27, and the first thing you think is, ‘He’s probably in a relationship.’ But I didn’t know how to say, ‘Hi, we’ve just met. Are you in a relationship?’ I think he kind of sensed that, so he said, ‘Would you like to meet my girlfriend?’ I just felt utterly crushed.”
Turns out, the “girlfriend” Steve wanted to introduce Terri to wasn’t his significant other but his dog, Sue, who inspired Bindi’s middle name.
“So he called out, ‘Hey, Sue. Hey, Suey,’ and here comes this little dog, Suey. I went, ‘Boom. Tick. No girlfriend.’”
The Australia Zoo, which the Irwin family owns in Beerwah, Australia, is also a special location for Powell, who visited the park as a tourist and unexpectedly fell in love with one of its owners in 2013.
“It was so cool seeing the parallels,” he said. “Because [Bindi and I met] right next to where Steve and Terri met [after] Steve had just finished a croc demonstration. I met Bindi right next door, and I was holding a koala and Bindi was holding an echidna, and it was just love at first sight.”
“It feels so right, because actually, coincidentally, next year is the Australia Zoo’s 50th anniversary,” Bindi told Us. “We were going, ‘Oh, my goodness, this is perfect. We’ll celebrate the 50th anniversary. We’ll get married.’ The stars aligned so beautifully.”
Powell added, “The Australia Zoo is where we met, where we got engaged and, obviously, where we’re going to get married, so it just all worked out perfectly that it’s fully incorporated into the zoo and who we are.”
Though her father won’t be at the wedding, Bindi told Us that the ceremony will “absolutely” include a tribute to the late Crocodile Hunter, who died in September 2006 after he was stung in the heart by a stingray while swimming in the Batt Reef in Australia.
“I really wanted Dad to be a big part of the day, so I’m excited to be able to incorporate him throughout the ceremony and the reception, and I think it’s going to be really special because I feel like his spirit lives on in us,” Bindi said.
Terri also believes that Steve will be at the nuptials in spirit and predicts that the animal activist would be emotional to see what Bindi and her 15-year-old brother, Robert Irwin, are like today.
“I always think about what would Steve be doing,” she said. “While we’re discussing the wedding planning and the details, I know he would just be crying because he was so soft on the inside and loves [Bindi] and Robert so much and would have loved you, Chandler, and he would have definitely cried at the wedding. He couldn’t have given a speech. … It would have been incredibly special.”
Season 2 of Crikey! It’s the Irwins premieres on Animal Planet Saturday, October 5, at 8 p.m. ET.
For more with the Irwin family, watch the video above.
With reporting by Christina Garibaldi
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