The loved ones of Bob Irwin have come out in his defence after his granddaughter Bindi Irwin accused him of “psychological abuse”.
In honour of Father’s Day, celebrated on June 20th in the US of A, Bindi shared three photos of the dads in her life. One was of Steve Irwin, another of her husband Chandler Powell, and the last one was of her father-in-law.
“These extraordinary men inspire me and I love them so very much,” Bindi wrote.
Nice, lovely, wholesome.
However, one woman attempted to skewer Bindi for not including her grandad in the post. Surprisingly, Bindi responded. And in a lengthy statement, she claims that Bob has “shown no interest in spending time with me or my family”, including Bindi’s newborn daughter Grace Warrior Irwin Powell.
She claims Bob sent back presents from Bindi and her family that were already opened and ignored her attempts to contact him.
“He has never said a single kind word to me personally,” she wrote. “It breaks my heart but it is not healthy to engage in an abusive relationship.”
Bindi’s claims were a ginormous shock to many, to say the least, especially for a family beloved for being, well, a family.
Entertainment reporter Peter Ford told Sunrise on Monday that he spoke to Bob’s wife Judy over the weekend, who said she didn’t know about Bindi’s comments.
“They were pretty shellshocked by it and when I rang and read to his wife Judy the details, they’re not on social media, so they were were not aware of what was going on at all, I think they were pretty shocked and devastated,” Ford said.
“That’s just the feeling I got. They didn’t say that to me and they did not come back and offer any kind of reply or response,” Ford added.
But while there hasn’t been any official response from Bob, his daughter Mandy Johnstone – Steve’s younger sister – said: “the whole situation sucks.”
“Dad is the most amazing father, grandfather and great grandfather,” she said, as per the Daily Telegraph.
Mandy praised her father, describing him as a huge part of her family.
“He always said to watch out for humans, they’re the ones that can be nasty. Stephen said the same. Why can’t people just leave him alone and let him live his life.”
Bethany Wheeler, Mandy’s step-daughter, called Bindi’s comments “appalling.”
She described Bob as “one of the most genuinely beautiful humans on this planet” and someone who has “never spoken out or put down anybody”.
“My sisters and brothers will happily back me up when I say that Bob Irwin is a passive and beautiful human,” Bethany said.
Amanda French, who co-wrote Bob’s 2016 memoir, The Last Crocodile Hunter, also replied to Bindi’s shocking words on Facebook with her own lengthy comment.
“I have sat with him in hospital many times, lived with him, had him walk me down the aisle and he’s also our son’s Godfather,” Amanda wrote.
“He hasn’t seen you since you were 10. He has done all he knows how to do and that is bury his head in the sand because that’s how he copes. He’s not someone who is out there reaching out and communicating, he’s like your Dad was. An introvert and not someone who can navigate people well.”
Amanda added that Bob loves Bindi and the family “more than you know.”
“This should be a private matter not written about on Facebook. I’m so disappointed to read this. It’s immature to write such words.”
In her original comment, Bindi claims her mum Terri still writes to Bob and sends him birthday and Christmas cards.
“We have also been his financial support since 1992 when he retired from Australia Zoo, sending him funds every week,” Bindi wrote.
Amanda took issue with this. She pointed out that Bob was the one who established Australia Zoo in 1970, before handing the keys over to Steve and Terri when they married in 1992.
“We could turn this around and say he supported your family financially by handing you the keys to the very property he built with his bare hands,” she wrote.
While Bindi hasn’t explicitly responded to Bob’s defenders, she did post a quote on her social media about putting one’s mental health first.
At the end of her original comment, Bindi wrote that she hopes everyone remembers to be kind to one another, especially themselves.
“I have struggled with this relationship my entire life and it brings me enormous pain,” Bindi said. “I have to choose to care for my own mental health now.”