Animal advocates, dancing pros and others who remember Steve Irwin, “The Crocodile Hunter,” fondly converged on the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to join Bindi Irwin and her mother and younger brother for the First Annual Steve Irwin Gala. It was all to support the Irwin’s Australian conservation charity Wildlife Warriors Worldwide and it attracted quite a diverse crowd, including chameleons, reticulated pythons and even a cheetah.
The party started on Saturday May 21, 2016, with cocktails and critters – plenty of them, to the delight of the black-tie-with-a-touch-of-khaki-clad partygoers. Everyone got the chance to get up close with birds, snakes, lizards and more, all a part of the message of international animal conservation and protection that the Irwins brought from their Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, located just north of Brisbane in Australia.
Steve Irwin, the herpetologist who founded that zoo, sadly passed away at age 44 in a fluke accident. But his legacy lives on through his family and friends’ work; many of them were on hand for this celebration of his life and of Queensland, the place he called home. His daughter Bindi Irwin, who became a worldwide star when she took home the “Dancing with the Stars” trophy partnered with pro dancer Derek Hough, led the charge, along with her mother Terri and still-young brother Robert
Hough and fellow “Stars” dancer Artem Chigvintsev, along with Tom Bergeron (the show’s Emmy-winning host), were all on hand to join in the celebration and live auction, which helped raise much-needed cash for the cause. Australia’s own Olivia Newton-John co-hosted the gala and everyone applauded the Guruman Aboriginal Dancers, who put on a terrific exhibition of Australia’s indigenous dancing and story telling.
The glittery evening was a commemoration of Steve Irwin’s love for everything wild in Australia, especially the reptiles and amphibians that live in the northeast part of the country. Tourism Queensland was one of the party’s major sponsors, and Leigh Arredondo, Tourism and Events Queensland’s International Director, The Americas, explained why.
“Steve Irwin is a renowned icon in Queensland and throughout the world for his work with wildlife. Queensland features a diverse array of wildlife and the Australia Zoo and Wildlife Warriors has been a leader in conservation, relating both to the animals and their habitats,” Arrendondo said. “We welcome visitors to experience it for themselves along with the rest of what the region has to offer.”