Robert Irwin was moved to tears during what he called “one of the highlights of my entire life”.
The Australian conservationist and his team at Australia Zoo made a moving Instagram announcement over the weekend.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Robert Irwin moved to tears in ‘special moment’.
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Steve first discovered the unique freshwater turtle species – called the lseya Irwini in his honour – in far North Queensland and it was his dream to successfully breed the endangered creatures.
Decades on, his son and the team were successful in this mission – with the first of 12 eggs hatching.
A video, posted by Robert, showed him holding on to a tiny turtle before carefully dropping it into a pond at the zoo.
Robert Irwin with the baby Irwin’s turtle. Credit: Instagram / robertirwinphotography
“This is one of the highlights of my entire life and one of the most special moments ever for Australia Zoo,” Robert told the camera.
“This is the very first Elseya Irwini Irwin’s turtle ever hatched for any zoological facility anywhere in the world.
“This species is a turtle that my dad originally discovered out in the wild and for the first time we’ve got a little baby and right now he’s going to get his first swim in a brand new pond”.
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Irwin called the pond a “little slice of the wild”.
“It’s just so surreal and all the stories from Dad about just how amazing and beautiful they are.”
Steve Irwin discovered Irwin’s Turtle in 1990. Credit: Instagram / robertirwinphotography
Overcome, a teary Robert admitted he “doesn’t get emotional that much”.
As a staff member told Irwin that his father would be proud, the 19-year-old nodded and watched the turtle in the water.
“My dad would be stoked that with that. We did it,” Robert said.
Captioning the sweet video, the wildlife warrior wrote, “Wow. This was a special moment.
“I think Dad would be pretty proud that we’ve become the first to successfully breed the turtle that he discovered.
“A rare, and unique species under threat in the wild has just been given a second chance.”
Robert Irwin was struck by emotion upon releasing the baby turtle into its pond. Credit: Instagram / robertirwinphotography
Robert’s girlfriend Rorie Buckey was quick to offer her support, writing, “So cool,” with a heart emoji.
“I’m not crying, you’re crying,” another wrote.
One fan suggested, “Name him Steve”.
“Keep going man. You’re on a great way to fill out your dad’s footsteps 👊🏻,” added another.
“Steve is looking down and crying tears of joy. His heart is proud of not only turtle, but with the fact that his legacy continued with the same path he visualised,” another said.
“That is an incredible achievement legend. You are rightly proud. I’m sure your Dad had a hand in that miraculous conception ❤️❤️,” a commenter wrote.
Robert Irwin with an adult Irwin Turtle. Credit: Instagram / robertirwinphotography
In 1990, Steve discovered Irwin’s turtle in the Burdekin River in northern Queensland.
They were named after Irwin when he sent pictures to expert John Cann who confirmed they were a new species.
The animal is native to Australia.
Robert further celebrated the “indescribable” achievement on Sunrise Monday morning, showing viewers an adult Irwin turtle.
“It really is incredibly special. You can imagine the personal meaning that this has but also for the conversation of this species, it’s incredibly important,” he said.
Robert Irwin on Sunrise. Credit: Seven
‘Been a big dream’
Irwin held on to a fully grown female Irwin’s turtle, as he called the creatures “beautiful animals”.
“Dad spent so much time in the wild with them on the Burdekin River to prove that this is a new species and prove their conservation significance.
“It’s been a big dream to have them at Australia Zoo and a very far-flung dream to maybe one day breed them and we’ve been successful.
“This secures the future of Dad’s turtle.
“Legacy is everything to us and this really is living proof that Dad’s message and his legacy are still alive and ongoing.”
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