Why Bob Irwin is loving being back at another zoo
BOB Irwin has spoken about how much he is enjoying being involved with the animals at Wildlife HQ, at the Big Pineapple.
Speaking from his Kingaroy home, Mr Irwin told the Daily he felt "very passionately" about Maly, the Sun bear and the issues these beautiful creatures were facing overseas.
"The more publicity we can get for Sun bears like Maly, the better," he said.
The 76-year-old grandfather of Bindi and Robert Irwin who founded Australia Zoo, now run by his daughter-in-law Terri, was loving being close to zoo animals once again.
"I've been out of the animal-side of things for quite some time," Mr Irwin said.
"Although I have been involved in different issues in different parts of Australia, such as getting up close with ocean-going turtles."
His involvement with Wildlife HQ, formerly Queensland Zoo, evolved when he "needed to do a media thing with some animals".
"Wildlife HQ had the animals and were only willing to help out," he said.
"Since that time I have developed a close relationship with the keepers and I've had the opportunity to spend time with Maly."
Retirement remains far from his mind, even though he left the Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park, where Australia Zoo now sits to retire in the 1990s.
"I don't think retirement is something I put any thought into at all," Mr Irwin said.
"While there are issues with animals and I am able to help out as much as I can, it is what I want to do," he said.
"I am thankful to play a small part to bring about awareness of what animals face in the world."
Mr Irwin did not wish to discuss the rift between himself and Terri Irwin and Australia Zoo, but admitted it had been hard to no longer be involved.
"When you spend half a lifetime building up a business you starting from scratch and you've been working towards certain things you want to achieve in the future, it is very hard to leave that," he said.
"I have been able to keep busy with conservation issues.
"In some ways it has allowed me to get closer to other animals, such as Maly, and I may not otherwise have been able to have that experience."
He was full of praise for the facility at the Big Pineapple, which reminded him of how Australia Zoo once was.
"What management at Wildlife HQ have been able to do in short period of time is amazing," he said.
"It makes me happy when I go there. It does remind me of my starting point.
"But all zoos are different and have different goals at the end of the day
"(Wildlife HQ) has wonderful keepers that are dedicated to the animals, which makes me really happy."
Mr Irwin said he hadn't "kept in touch with Australia Zoo".
"That's how life is," he said.
"What I want to focus on is helping bears as much as possible."