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Terri Irwin says 'it was quite a challenge' maintaining Australia Zoo while in lockdown

Last month, Terri Irwin revealed that Australia Zoo was on the brink of collapse amid lockdown, due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

And on Saturday, the wife of the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin spoke to Weekend Today and said how ‘challenging’ it was to maintain the popular tourist attraction at the time.  

Australia Zoo, much like many attractions and places across the country, was forced to close on March 26 – a day after her daughter Bindi’s wedding to Chandler Powell. 








Trying times: Terri Irwin told Weekend Today 'it was quite a challenge' maintaining Australia Zoo while in lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic (Terri pictured with her son Robert)

Trying times: Terri Irwin told Weekend Today ‘it was quite a challenge’ maintaining Australia Zoo while in lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic (Terri pictured with her son Robert)

The 55-year-old explained to the morning show that the zoo was in a ‘unique position’ of being closed, but unable to completely shut down because of the animals and their zoo grounds.

‘Everything has had to stay open from our wildlife hospital, to hundreds of staff coming into care for the animals at Australia Zoo and the gardens.

‘The cafes had to stay open to feed the staff. It was like being open, but with no guests coming in. It was quite a challenge,’ she said. 

'It was like being open, but with no guests': Terri explained that the zoo was in a 'unique position' of being closed but unable to completely shut down because of the animals and their zoo grounds (Terri pictured left with her daughter Bindi and son-in-law Chandler Powell)

‘It was like being open, but with no guests’: Terri explained that the zoo was in a ‘unique position’ of being closed but unable to completely shut down because of the animals and their zoo grounds (Terri pictured left with her daughter Bindi and son-in-law Chandler Powell)

The Queensland attraction reopened its gates on June 12, with social distancing measures in place. 

Terri told host Rebecca Maddern that the reopening was ‘unexpectedly emotional’.

‘Hearing kids laughing and people having fun, and being so appreciative to be back in the gardens and with the wildlife, that really got really emotional,’ she added.

Back in June, in a promo for a special episode of Crikey! It’s the Irwins, Terri revealed that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic left her unable to pay the bills of her beloved zoo. 

Back in business: Australia Zoo reopened on June 12, with social distancing measures in place. Terri said the reopening was 'unexpectedly emotional'

Back in business: Australia Zoo reopened on June 12, with social distancing measures in place. Terri said the reopening was ‘unexpectedly emotional’

Terri revealed the zoo spends a whopping $400,000 per week on wages, plus $78,914 on food for the animals. 

To make ends meet, she was forced to cut jobs and operate with a skeleton crew of employees to help maintain the zoo during strict lockdowns.

Terri said in the episode, set to air on Animal Planet in August: ‘I’m the pilot of a big plane and the plane is going down, and I’m handing out all the parachutes I’ve got. 

‘Sometimes at the end of the day I’ve just got my head in my hands wondering what we’re going to do tomorrow.’ 

Making sacrifices: In the promo for a special episode of Crikey! It's the Irwins, Terri revealed that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic left her unable to pay the bills. To make ends meet, she was forced to cut jobs and operate with a skeleton crew of employees

Making sacrifices: In the promo for a special episode of Crikey! It’s the Irwins, Terri revealed that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic left her unable to pay the bills. To make ends meet, she was forced to cut jobs and operate with a skeleton crew of employees 

Cutting it thin: In the promo, Terri said she, 'can't even come close' to paying the bills

Cutting it thin: In the promo, Terri said she, ‘can’t even come close’ to paying the bills

Terri said she, ‘can’t even come close’ to paying the bills.

Terri said the zoo’s hardship was particularly emotional due to a promise she made to Steve, who converted his family’s Beerwah wildlife park to Australia Zoo in the 1990s.

‘This was Steve’s passion. Steve would say to me, “if anything happens to me, make sure the zoo continues”. So it’s really important that we keep this going,’ she said. 

Bindi, who married longtime boyfriend Chandler Powell in March, called off her honeymoon to help her mother out with the rapidly-declining zoo.

Robert also took on extra responsibilities to keep the zoo from going under.

‘We have enough food to continue on for about six weeks, but after that we are going to seriously be running out of funds. I keep thinking, “Gosh I wish dad was here to help us out with everything”,’ Bindi said during the episode. 

Crikey! It’s the Irwins: Life in Lockdown will document the family’s time in lockdown at the Sunshine Coast tourist attraction, it premieres on Saturday, August 1 at 7.30pm on Animal Planet.

Hard times: Terri said the zoo's hardship was particularly emotional due to a promise she made to Steve, who turned his family's wildlife park to Australia Zoo in the 1990s (Terri and Steve pictured together)

Hard times: Terri said the zoo’s hardship was particularly emotional due to a promise she made to Steve, who turned his family’s wildlife park to Australia Zoo in the 1990s (Terri and Steve pictured together)

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