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EXCLUSIVE: Terri Irwin’s fears for Robert after terrifying close encounter with a crocodile

Robert’s horror crocodile encounter has The Australia Zoo matriarch worried for her son.

By Woman's Day team
As Robert Irwin stared into the eyes of one of Australia Zoo's most aggressive crocodiles, Casper, he knew he was in trouble.
Standing in a narrow enclosure, he dropped a chunk of raw meat in the hope of distracting the 3.7-metre, 350kg predator, to absolutely no avail.
"Bail! Bail!" the teenager screamed at his crew as he ran for his life. "He looked straight past the food and right at my head and just starts running," Robert nonchalantly recalled on Today last week.
For Robert, 18, it made for excellent viewing in the finale of his Animal Planet series Crikey! It's The Irwins, but for his long-suffering mum Terri, it was her worst nightmare come to life.
Robert was forced to flee for his life when a giant crocodile lunged at him. (Image: Instagram)
"Terri wasn't there that day, but when Robert told her about it, he was super casual," says a source.
"The footage told a much different story. She almost had a heart attack when she saw just how close Robert came to a tragic end."
Sources close to the Irwin family say that while Bindi, 23, most looks like her late father Steve, it's Robert who's inherited his daredevil tendencies.
And it's keeping Terri up at night.
"Terri has lived through the worst thing anyone could possibly imagine the day she found out Steve had been attacked by a stingray and didn't survive," says a source.
"Now, after seeing Robert's close encounter with Casper, Terri's reliving that trauma.
"She knows Steve would be so proud of the man and animal handler Robert has become, but she does wish they weren't quite so alike sometimes."
The source adds, "Terri might put on a brave face and tell the world her kid is perfectly safe because he's studied crocs his whole life, but behind the scenes, watching Robert put himself in harm's way every day is a daunting prospect."
Robert has eagerly followed in his late dad's footsteps. (Image: Instagram)
Especially given it seems the teenager uses his near misses as a way to channel his dad, who died in 2006 while filming on the Great Barrier Reef when Robert was just two years old.
"It's an adrenaline rush... I feel closest personally to my dad when I'm in there working with the animals he loved," he told Today's Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon.
"It's an honour for me to continue that legacy. Yes, they're dangerous, but they're amazing creatures."
Publicly Terri is "incredibly proud" of her fearless son, but the stress is taking its toll on the Irwin matriarch. (Image: Instagram)
"Steve was always taking things to the extreme, but his son is on another level.
"He's pulling off death-defying bike stunts, throwing axes and tempting fate with the crocs.
"To Robert, he's building a career and has a huge future in film ahead of him just like his father did, and Terri respects that. But it doesn't help her worry any less."

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