Barbara Walters Exclusive: Croc Hunter's Widow

ByABC News via via logo

Sept. 27, 2006 — -- Terri Irwin says, for her, meeting "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin was love at first sight.

It was Oct. 6, 1991, and Terri was visiting Australia from Eugene, Ore., where she saw Steve doing a crocodile show in a small reptile park.

"And I was absolutely floored. That was it. This man was a real-life hero," Terri said to Barbara Walters. "I fell then and there, love at first sight, not a problem. I said to my friend, 'I got to meet this guy.'"

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Terri says she went up and introduced herself to him, and asked whether she could get a picture with him.

"I was gushing, and I felt like such a tourist and we did a big cheesy photo together," Terri said.

Afterward, they continued talking, and their connection grew.

"He was so passionate and honest … and there he just bared himself to me as if we'd known each other forever," she said.

They were married six months later.

The Irwins became a family who lived with cameras, even in their most private moments.

The family's home-movie collection is extensive, and astoundingly intimate.

Cameras were present even at the births of their two children, Bindi and Bob.

Steve actually delivered Bindi, born in 1998, while cameras rolled.

"It's amazing," Terri said. "I always am astounded at how willing Steve was to share all about himself. And sometimes he got criticized for it. But he was so open and yet so private about some things."

Cameras and babies are usually a winning combination, but add a crocodile, as Steve did on one memorable occasion, and you have a recipe for controversy.

In 2004, Steve carried his month-old son, Bob, in his arms while feeding a crocodile, drawing howls of protest from around the world.

Steve told reporters afterward he was always in control of the situation, and Terri agreed.

"He wouldn't endanger his little boy," she said. "It was a very controlled, captive situation with a crocodile that we work with all the time. And he would never have his little boy too close to a crocodile."

Being close to wildlife is part of the Irwin legacy.

Steve and Terri's daughter, 8-year-old Bindi, seems to be following in her father's footsteps.

She's hosting a new series on the Discovery Network called "Bindi the Jungle Girl."

"Bindi went in with the crocodiles when she was one month old, and grew up with the crocodiles," Terri said.

At Irwin's memorial service earlier this month, Bindi stilled the crowd with her poise as she gave her own moving farewell to her father.

"I don't want Daddy's passion to ever end," she said. "I want to help endangered wildlife just like he did."

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