It's okay to feed our wildlife, says Terri Irwin
October 29, 2007 01:00am
TERRI Irwin, the widow of the late conservationist Steve, says it is alright for people to feed wildlife in their backyards.
The 43-year-old director of Queensland's Australia Zoo said Steve had been trying to encourage people to get closer to nature - starting with their own back garden.
“We need to be getting closer to wildlife and Steve was trying to show that,” Terri told Andrew Denton on the ABC television program Enough Rope, which airs tonight.
“You know how people always used to say “don't feed animals cos they'll become dependent'? We've learned that's hogwash,” Terri said.
“If Sizzlers closes I don't suddenly go “oh my gosh, I'm gonna starve, there's no more, where do I forage?' I'll figure it out.”
Terri said people should be told it is alright to feed wildlife.
“It's okay to put birdseed in the backyard and left-over bread for the possums,” she said.
“It's okay to bring wildlife closer to you instead of further away.
“We're learning, for example, through formal studies that even if you feed your backyard visiting wildlife anything they wanted, say you did the wrong thing and gave possums sticky buns, we've now got studies that prove the maximum amount of that diet will be 18 percent of the animal's total diet.”
Her comments were in opposition to the advice of several state governments.
Terri also responded to critics of her nine-year-old daughter Bindi's increasing fame and media involvement.
“Bindi herself is excited about the potential of being a role model, of being someone who wants to be a fit kid, not a couch potato, of loving wildlife, of having goals, getting kids to stand up and say no, as I get older my vote and my lifestyle are going to influence the future of this planet,” she said.
“And for her to have that consideration, I can't get my head around that that's a bad thing.”
She said Bindi was a “normal kid” who rolls her eyes when told she has to do school work before filming and has friends not just fans.
Bindi has her own clothing line called Bindi Wear, documentary series Bindi the Jungle Girl, and fitness DVD called Bindi Kidfitness.
It was also rumoured that Mattel was interested in developing a Bindi doll range.
Terri said she turned down many offers of work for her daughter, and only projects which benefit conservation were given approval.
“I'm not just saying to everybody “let's have Bindi everywhere in the universe',” she said.
“We're very controlled with it and it needs to be about wildlife conservation so if it's the impossibly perfect-figured Barbie doll, that's nuts.
“It's got to be about wildlife conservation and it's got to be benefiting conservation.”