Bindi Irwin and her mom, Terri Irwin, are setting the record straight about Terri’s rumoured relationship with family friend and Oscar winner Russell Crowe.
ET caught up with Bindi, her brother, Robert, and her mother at the Steve Irwin Gala dinner in Beverly Hills on Saturday, where they dismissed recent tabloid speculation that Terri had struck up a romance with the Nice Guys star.
“We were very lucky to have known Russell for a number of years. He was Steve’s friend and then after Steve died, he became a loyal friend of the Irwin family, but we’re just friends,” Terri shared.
“He’s amazing. He’s helped us protect the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve from strip mining,” she added. “He helps us through social media to get the word out. You might not think of ‘conservation’ immediately when you think of Russell Crowe, but he is a great conservationist in his own right.”
Bindi and Terri added that Crowe is a “wildlife gladiator.”
“He’s a really great dad too,” Bindi shared. “He has two wonderful boys that are really sweet and he’s always there for his boys and is a great human being. So we all love Russell, [we’re] just not in love.”
The former Dancing With the Stars champ explained that, despite their relationship still being a mostly long-distance affair, her 20-year-old boyfriend is really getting accustomed to Australia and Bindi’s passion and dedication to nature conservation.
“We haven’t moved in together, that’s for sure,” Bindi explained. “He still splits his time between Florida and then also Australia. He comes to visit a lot, [and] we try to catch up whenever we can.”
“Chandler is actually really amazing when it comes to wildlife, I think that’s because he’s such a kind and caring soul,” she shared. “When you’re genuinely a kind person, that means when you’re working with animals and wildlife and wild places, you’re gonna do great things because you have to treat animals the way you would wish to be treated.”
“Chandler is such a blessing and always kind and wonderful,” Bindi added.
Bindi’s 13-year-old brother, Robert, also praised Chandler for how adept he is at handling wildlife at the family’s home inside the Australia Zoo.
“It’s been so much fun because back at the Australia Zoo, I’ve been throwing Chandler in with all of the animals and he’s done such a great job. He’s been feeding the alligators and fresh water crocodiles. I’ve had so much fun with him and he’s learning a lot, definitely.”
Robert explained that, given Chandler’s childhood growing up in Florida, he’s “used to alligators and crocodiles” already.
“I don’t think there’s anything he’s too afraid of. I think he’ll just tackle anything,” he shared.
According to Bindi, her boyfriend didn’t even get scared during their road trip through “far North Queensland,” where they drove her dad’s old pickup truck over some particularly difficult Australian terrain.
“I said to Chandler, ‘OK, I’m going to let you drive,’ and he hadn’t really ever driven manual and he had never driven in Australia, and he just gave it a go,” Bindi recalled. “I think he sweat a little bit with that one, but he did good. I was very proud. Now he’s driving like a champion in Australia.”
Terri also opened up about celebrating her husband’s legacy at the gala event, sharing, “It’s a beautiful night to celebrate family, fun, everything that Steve worked so hard for.”
“We’re doing things even bigger than when he was here,” she explained. “We have 450 thousand acres of conservation property. We employ dozens of people around the world protecting wildlife. And tonight it’s all about supporting these amazing causes.”
“It’s so much fun helping people connect with nature and really love our beautiful wildlife and wild places,” Robert continued.
“Everybody is family here tonight. We’re all joined together as wildlife warriors, helping to protect the world around us,” Bindi added. “So it’s a great evening.”
In April, Bindi took to Instagram to share some sweet praise for her boyfriend, writing, “Sometimes in life, you find that someone who is living Sunshine.” Check out the video below to see the teenage nature conservationist’s heartfelt post.