Now she’s walking, Bindi Irwin’s daughter Grace has adorably taken to toddling around Australia Zoo, the Sunshine Coast tourist attraction she will likely one day inherit.
The 17-month-old goes gaga every time she sees one of the numerous pictures of her late grandfather Steve Irwin, who she knows as “Grandpa Crocodile”.
But one person the toddler never sees – either immortalised at the zoo or in person – is her great-grandfather and Australia Zoo founder, Bob.
Insiders reveal the property has “hardly any proof Bob ever existed”, despite the fact the conservationist built the zoo from the ground up, alongside Steve’s late mother Lyn. “There are pictures of Lyn, Steve and the kids everywhere, but you’d be hard pressed to find anything about Bob,” tells a source.
Now 83, Bob lives with his second wife Judy deep in the Queensland bush on a remote property he calls Camp Chilli, where he’s occasionally seen driving to the nearby town of Kingaroy for errands and appointments.
It’s a world away from the lavish and ultramodern Australia Zoo Terri and her children have built up in recent years.
In 1992, Bob willingly handed ownership of the park to Steve and his wife Terri, but stayed involved in the business. However, two years after Steve’s shock death, Bob abruptly left the park after reportedly falling out with Terri about how the business should be run.
Bob has been estranged from Terri and her children ever since and has essentially lived in exile from Steve’s family, including Bindi’s husband Chandler, ever since.
“After everything, he just wanted to get as far away as he could from Australia Zoo, Terri, and the ‘commercial theme park’ he said she was creating against Steve’s vision,” tells an insider.
“Out there, he can still work with wildlife, but it’s off the grid so he’s rarely bothered. He still talks about Steve and the kids, but it’s with sadness. I’m sure he’s devastated not to know his great-grandchild,” tells a close insider.
Until recently, it was widely accepted that the Terri and two children Bindi and Robert cut Bob off, with him insisting they even sent back birthday and Christmas gifts.
But last year, in an emotionally charged Facebook comment on US Father’s Day, Bindi, 23, insisted it was the other way around, sensationally accusing her grandfather of “psychological abuse”.
“He has returned gifts I sent to him after he opened them, he has ignored my correspondence and from the time I was a little girl, he has ignored me, preferring to spend time doing anything else rather than being with me,” she alleged.
Bindi also seemingly claimed that her mother financed Camp Chilli, adding, “We have been his financial support since 1992 when he retired, sending him funds every week. We built him a house on a beautiful property… I have struggled my entire life with this relationship and it brings me enormous pain.
Several family members hit back at Bindi, including her cousin by marriage Bethany Wheeler, who insisted, “Poppy is one of the most genuinely beautiful humans on this planet. He is a man who sits silently and battles his demons alone.”
Indeed, it’s hard to believe that a man who built the foundation for everything Bindi and Terri hold dear is living in exile from Steve’s family.
“You have to wonder what Steve would think about it all,” shares a close source, who points out the situation is showing no signs of ending. “Bindi has taken a public, hard-line stance against her grandfather she’ll never be able to take back… Bob’s had health problems and he’s not getting any younger – it would be great for them to bury the hatchet,” the insider explains, noting it’s sadly all very unlikely.