Why I’m so Freakin Excited for the Brood X Cicadas, a Letter to My Kids

Artistic depiction of what the 2021 Brood X Cicadas will look like on the Joel Willis family.
Artistic depiction of the 2021 Brood X Cicadas, cicadas may or may not be to scale (Joel Willis)

Author’s note: When my kids were born, I made each of them an email address. From time to time I email them thoughts, advice, pictures, videos, notes from their teachers, etc. They don’t check the email now, but one day they will. It’s a time capsule of love and memories. What follows is an email I sent them today.

My earliest memory is picking cicada shells off of trees in the front yard of my childhood home in Millville, Ohio. It was 1987. I was 4 years old. I know this because it was the first time I witnessed the Brood X Cicadas, which descend upon the midwest United States every 17 years.

Joel Willis, 4 years old, in a car ride at Americana theme park
Joel Willis, approximately 4 years old, at Americana theme park (Joel Willis)

17 years, the time it takes a human to go from a baby to an adult.

The second time I witnessed the Brood X Cicadas, it was 2004. I was 21. I worked downtown Cincinnati while going to school at the University of Cincinnati. Snappy Tomato Pizza changed their jingle to Snappy Cicada Pizza. At a Reds game in nosebleed seats in the summer heat, I dared a friend to eat a nacho with a cicada on it and he did. I remember driving down Columbia Parkway along the river to my tiny apartment in Mt Lookout. Cicadas fell from the trees at such great volume that I had to use my windshield wipers.

I had recently started dating a girl who moved away to Chicago for the summer. She was my best friend and I missed her so much while she was away. One night I was sitting on the couch and there was a knock at the door. My roommate told me to get it. There she was. She had coordinated with my roommate, randomly made the 5-hour drive, and surprised me. I was giddy. I’ll never forget it. That woman is the love of my life. She is your mom.

Young, in love, and blurry, Chicago, 2004
Young, in love, and blurry, Chicago, 2004 (Joel Willis)

The Brood X Cicadas served as the backdrop for 2 formative times in my life, so far. I’ll never forget the sound they made, and the way those big dumb idiots fly around bumping into each other so clumsily. But they’re also memory enhancers for everything else happening at that time.

Any day now, the Brood X Cicadas will be back. I’m so freakin excited. The timing couldn’t be better. You guys are 11 and 9. Going into 7th grade and 4th grade. You’re going to remember this your entire life.

I wasn’t always such a memories or “time”-obsessed person. I think it just happens to parents as they slowly watch their kids grow up. I used to think I’d never be sappy or sentimental about you guys growing up. Now I can get teary-eyed checking a video from Facebook memories.

So I think about it all the time, making sure to stay in the moment and cherish your childhood, making happy lifelong memories along the way.

4th grade and 7th grade. Formative years to be sure. I have distinct memories of the friends I made in 4th grade. How it felt to be on a winless basketball team, or even junky computer games I played after finishing schoolwork early. But 7th grade? Junior high?! Everyone has super vivid memories of that time. This summer is the last summer before everything gets real.

The fact that these bugs are here may be annoying to some. Your mom is already dreading it. The dog is gonna eat snacks for days. I find them fascinating. I’ve been telling you both for months how excited I am for the cicadas. But really, I’m excited for you to see the cicadas. They’re lifelong memory fuel. We’re gonna be positive. Have laughs. And one day you’ll look back on that summer when the cicadas invaded, your dad was giddy for some reason, your mom was grossed out, and we had the best summer ever.

17 years, the time it takes a human to go from a baby to an adult.

Shhh, you hear that buzz. That’s the sound of memories being made.

Relax, Be Chill, There’s Just a Tiger On the Loose in a Texas Suburb

Tiger on the loose in texas
(Twitter/michaelschwab13)

There are some steadfast rules to neighborhood life. You wave to every car even though you can barely remember a single neighbor’s name. You don’t leave your trash cans out too long, and you have a day or two, either way, to cut your grass after your neighbors do. And you don’t let your tiger roam free.

OK, well, the tiger part only applies if you live in Texas. One Houston street got the shock of a lifetime earlier this week when a Bengal Tiger was spotted walking around. Someone pulled his car over to yell at the owner to get him to get his tiger back inside. The entire episode blew up on social media, and why wouldn’t it when you have a jungle predator strolling around. This feels like some ill-conceived jungle book parody, but nope, just some dude’s tiger is on the loose.

A driver (apparently an off-duty cop) pulled over (lord knows why) to bark at the guy. It was around 8 p.m. when the big cat was spotted, calls were placed to police, etc., etc. But the man pulled over to yell at the owner, sensibly, I guess, to get his animal back inside.

Why you would get out of your car when the aforementioned tiger was on the loose is equally deranged, in my humble opinion, but it led to a standoff that captivated the entire internet.

“Ge the f— back inside, f— you and your f—-ing tiger,” the man said. He later told reporters the man said “Ok, ok” and kissed the tiger, and pulled him back inside. Police came to the neighborhood to investigate the incident. Apparently, the man put a tiger into an SUV and drove away. The cops apprehended the man BUT THE TIGER IS STILL ON THE LOOSE. VERY CHILL AND COOL.

Maybe let the tiger-charmer out of jail until this thing is corralled. Either way, if you see a Bengal tiger wandering around your neighborhood in Houston, just ignore it, because all the best jokes have been done on Twitter.

The CEO of the Humane Society told reporters it is incredibly inhumane to have tigers in your house, you know, just in case you were on the fence (the one the tiger jumped) about whether or not you should have one as a pet.

“People have died from this,” she said.

At the same time, there is no place for this in suburb life. Having a tiger on the loose is a very 2020 thing, and frankly, we have all moved on to a better place.

11 Survival Skills That’ll Help You MacGyver Your Way Out Of Any Situation

survival skills
FluxFactory/Getty

First, it’s important to note that when we set out looking for the most important survival skills, a ton of other outlets suggested these were skills “every man should know.” That’s some dangerous noise. Do we not want women or girls to survive, too? Women go hiking, jogging, or just traveling on their own all the time. During any of those outings, they could find themselves stranded and in need of survival skills. Point is, sex has nothing to do with knowing how to dress a wound, find clean water, or set a dislocated shoulder. A rudimentary knowledge of survival skills is important whether you live in the city or out in the country. And while there are tons of useful books full of even more information on how to survive on your own, we put together a list of the absolute most basic tips for survival to get you through emergencies, camping trips, or a zombie apocalypse.

Before your mind wanders to the plotline for 127 Hours, sawing off limbs did not make the list. Whatever your reasons for needing these tips, it’s always a good idea to practice them a few times before you have to put them to use.

survival skills
Twentieth Century Fox

Catching and Purifying Water

Water is fantastically important, especially in hotter climates. If you want to survive, you have to stay hydrated. First and foremost, if at all possible, look for moving water. Water that is sitting on the ground is more likely to contain contaminants and bacteria that will make you sick. Also, attempt to boil your water. If, for instance, you’re traveling with a pot, metal water bottle, or canteen, catch the water in your canteen or pot. Then heat it over a fire until it boils. This isn’t failproof but boiling your water before you drink it will help kill off a lot of bacteria that could be living in it, even if it’s from a moving source.

Dress a Wound

A lot of times you end up stranded because you’d fallen or hurt yourself with no good way to keep moving or turn around. Learning how to take care of a wound or injury will help keep you alive (and possibly make you mobile, again). With open wounds, there are two important steps to keep in mind:

1. Stop the bleeding

You can do this by applying pressure, keeping the wound elevated, or in the case of major bleeding, creating a tourniquet. (See video, below.)

2. Clean the wound

Obviously, if there is significant bleeding, cleaning your wound isn’t your priority. As weird as it sounds, gushing blood will do a good job of cleaning out your wound on its own. What you’ll want to make sure of, though, is that you don’t allow the wound to get dirty. In other words, if you tie off your wound with fabric, make sure you’re using the cleanest part of your shirt to place over the wound. For smaller wounds, it’s really best to rinse them off with clean water before bandaging.

Break Something?

Creating a splint is easier than you think. Check out this video.

Learn A Couple Knots

What? You’re not a Boy Scout? Knots are an essential skill to learn for not just survival but everyday life. Tying a good knot can make or break a tree swing. A secure knot can even save lives when you’re securing that giant lawn chair in the back of your open trunk. Knots also help with tourniquets, rock climbing, and tent building.

Starting A Fire

They always make this look so hard in the movies, but with the right tools, it’s not that bad. The easiest advice we can give is just to carry a waterproof match on your keychain or in your hiking kit. Barring that, this video walks you through starting a fire with no help.

Building Shelter

If you know you’re stuck in nature for the long haul, building shelter is essential. You’ll want to make sure you’re not too close to any moving water. You also want to look for signs of movement: The last thing you want is set up camp on a bear’s main throughway. Next, while it may not seem vital, don’t underestimate the importance of being off the ground. Building a floor for yourself will keep you away from the damp ground, which will keep you warm when temperatures drop. It’ll also keep you a little further away from small, ground-based critters. Finally, even the most primitively roofed shelter will help keep you from the elements. A midnight storm? Not nearly as stressful if you’ve got a nice thatched roof over your head.

Staying Warm Without a Sleeping Bag

No sleeping bag? No problem. (Okay. It’s a bit of a problem.) Take a cue from animals and nestle into nature. Keeping your shelter small and as wind-proof as possible is one way to keep warm overnight. Another option is to pack dry leaves around you. Literally use leaves everywhere. Under the floor of your shelter. On top of your shelter’s floor. Stuff leaves between your shirt and your jacket. You might even want to use leaves to cover yourself up once you’re in your shelter.

Navigating Unfamiliar Terrains

Let’s be real: A compass is really only as useful as its owner. And the concept of following the North Star? Only helpful if you know heading north isn’t going to just lead you further into the unknown. One of the best ways to figure out where you are and where you need to go is to get as high as possible. Drag yourself up that hill. Climb that tree. Get as high as you can and look for signs of life… even if it’s just a slightly brighter sky in the distance. Another option? Find water and walk along with it. As we previously mentioned: Water is essential to life. That means you’re almost guaranteed to find more humans if you just continue to follow the water. However, never camp on the water’s edges, as you could be swept away during a flash flood. When it’s time to set up camp, head inland by at least several yards. Higher ground is also preferred.

Finding Food

So, you forgot to pack your “edible plants and berries” book? Honestly, we’ve all seen Into The Wild and know that eating forest roughage isn’t always a safe bet. Even if you’ve been a strict vegan for decades, stick to the meat (just start small). Build a rudimentary slingshot, trap, or bow and arrow and try to nab some small critters. Or, if you have the patience and the water: Try to fish. Fish is high in protein and, let’s face it, requires the least amount of energy. That’s why old guys love fishing.

Cooking Food

That campfire you built? It’s for more than just keeping you warm and boiling water. You’re going to need to cook on it, too. If you didn’t come with a pan, this will most likely look like shaving down a branch, skewering your meat, and holding it over the fire. (If you soak the wood first, it’ll do better over the flames.) Or use a thin, flat rock like a skillet. A word of warning: No matter how much you love sushi, now isn’t the time to cut corners. Burn your meat.

Signal For Help

At night, a fire will help. During the day, work on creating a giant “X” in a clearing. Start with something as long and as wide as your body, so you have at least something to start with. As you wait, continue building onto your X to make it even bigger. Choose material that contrasts against the ground, so it really sticks out.

Dad Mics up Skiing 2-Year-Old and Overhears Her Adorable Commentary

Dad mics skiing 2-year-old
(Instagram/thatmountainlife)

Instilling confidence and perseverance in your kids is a challenge, one made even more difficult by the fact that it’s hard to tell how much they’re internalizing. Perseverance is especially important when it comes to learning new skills, which can be both exciting and potentially stressful for kids. Some may stick with it as they fail repeatedly, while others give up after a single misstep. While teaching his 2-year-old daughter to ski, father of three Erich Leidums used a brilliant strategy to figure out what was going through her head.

Leidums is an avid skier, and hitting the slopes with his family is quality time he values deeply. After successfully teaching his two boys to ski, Leidums wanted to make one small change to his instructional strategy when it came to his youngest.

“I once saw a hockey dad mic up his son at a hockey practice. It was that video that made me think about putting a microphone on our kids,” he told POPSUGAR. “We would often hear our boys babble and talk out loud as they learned to ski, and we loved hearing them do it. It took me a while to actually purchase a mic, learn how it works, and incorporate it into my filming workflow.”

After attaching a microphone to 2-Year-old Adia and filming her impressively navigating the snowy slopes, Leidums made an adorable discovery. Like many toddlers, Adia’s internal monologue was – well, not entirely internal. The thoughts that popped into her head as she skied downhill ranged from constructive to downright hilarious and this tech-savvy dad managed to capture it all.

“I’m making my lines!” The 2-year-old proudly says, nailing the lesson her dad taught her. “I love going over that root,” she marvels. “Oh, ice! Going over you ice, going around you ice.”

“Hi one-eyed monster,” Adia says happily, out of freaking nowhere. The toddler makes adorable sound effects as she zooms down the hill, fully embodying what it means to be a “little ripper.” She conquers obstacles and ski conditions that would be difficult for adults, and does so with enthusiasm and confidence.

 

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A post shared by Erich Leidums (@thatmountainlife)

Erich Leidums’s Instagram page is filled with adorable videos of Adia, as well as clips of the rest of his family enjoying their time being active together. “Playing in the dirt, having the sun hit your face, and getting exercise all have physiological health benefits ranging from immune to mental health,” Leidums explained. “We want our kids to be healthy and active, and we feel playing outside is one of the best ways to achieve this.”

Reddit’s WallStreetBets Community Donates Over $380,000 To Help Save Gorillas

WallStreetBets donates to save gorillas
(Twitter/SavingGorillas, Reddit/Pakistani_in_MURICA)

There’s power in numbers, and in the age of the internet, people from around the world have the ability to band together for important causes. The Reddit community is a unique one, in the sense that it’s divided into subreddits where people can engage freely about specific topics that interest them. One subreddit called WallStreetBets has been in the news a lot recently after a few legendary members harnessed the power of their multi-million member community to make a difference.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about stocks or GameStop. My knowledge of stocks ends at “buy low sell high,” while my knowledge of GameStop centers around the time I sold them three games and didn’t make enough money to buy a sandwich at Jimmy Johns next door. Regardless, I’ll do my best to explain why this group of internet heroes have been gaining so much attention lately.

The traders of WallStreetBets bought up as many GameStop stocks as they could get their hands up, driving up the price astronomically. To short sellers, or people who sold the stock planning to buy it back when the price fell (they were quite literally baking on the GameStop stock falling), this was an enormous problem. Not only did they need to pay huge amounts of money to buy back the stocks they owed, but with WallStreetBets members refusing to sell, the prices continued to skyrocket.

It was an enormous win for the WallStreetBets community, proving that everyday people could go up against the pros of Wall Street. Throughout the process, Redditors used the phrase “apes together strong” as a sort of mantra. After the enormous success of their endeavor, they’re giving back to the meme that continued to inspire them by donating to save gorillas.

After one user posted that they “adopted” a gorilla through the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, other WallStreetBets members followed suit. So far, the group has donated over $380,000 dollars to gorilla conservation, adopting roughly 3,500 gorillas in just six days.

“They’ve truly made a difference for our world and shown what can be accomplished when people come together,” the foundation’s president, Dr. Tara Stoinski, told BBC News. “When we save gorillas and we save forests, we save our world.”

20-Yr-Old With Autism Spends 589 Days Picking up All the Trash on Hiking Trail

20yr Picks up Trash on Trail
(Twitter/EdgarMcGregor)

Some days, it can feel impossible to get your kids to pick up their toys. Now imagine getting one to pick up trash EVERY SINGLE DAY for more than a year. That’s what 20-year-old Edgar McGregor did when he came across a popular hiking spot in California that was covered in trash. It took him 589 days straight of collecting trash, but he finally got the job done.

“I AM DONE!!! I DID IT!!” he posted on Twitter. “After 589 days of picking up trash every single day, I can say with confidence that Eaton Canyon, one of Los Angeles’s most popular hiking trail, is now free of municipal waste! I’ve done it!! WOOO!!!!”

He visited the trail in the Angeles National Forest and saw so much trash that he wanted to make a difference. He did not anticipate spending more than a year on the project, though. But much like any home improvement project dads take on (which can quickly blow past deadlines), this one continued to drag.

But he chipped away at it, a bit each day. He picked up trash in 60 mph winds, and in heat exceeding 120 degrees, but every day he made the park a little cleaner. McGregor told NPR that not worrying about litterbugs and simply immersing himself in this work made him more excited than ever to go out every day and pick up.

“There is nothing more satisfying than seeing brand new animals return to your park after months of cleaning up,” he continued. “I highly encourage anyone with any spare time to give this mission a shot. Your parks need you.”

And he made a tangible difference in his community, but it’s not a mission he’s stopping either. He called on the Parks and Rec department (paging LA Leslie Knope) to do more to clean the parks and not rely solely on volunteers. But he also had some simple advice for people wanting to follow in his footsteps.

“My hardest cleanup was my first day out there,” he wrote. “Just get started, and you’ll find your way.”

It’s incredible to finish any project that takes nearly two years, and all the better if it’s something good for your community and nature. McGregor, who says he has autism, has made helping the environment his passion, and he even received a shoutout from Greta Thunberg, another young person who has made a name for themselves by taking up environmental issues.

At this point, I will settle for my kids being inspired by this story to the point that they pick up the Legos clogging our basement hiking trail.

One Texas Man With 4-Wheel-Drive Saves Hundreds of Stranded Drivers

Texas Man Helps
(YouTube/KVUE)

Texas dealt with a dangerous and unusual winter storm this month, leaving millions without power and water. While some took it as an opportunity to squabble and play politics, the true heroes were the people on the ground, taking care of their neighbors and helping each other through the crisis. One Texas man in particular took that to the next level, using his car to help hundreds of stranded drivers.

Ryan Sivley took his four-wheel-drive vehicle all-around Austin, helping cars stuck on the side of icy roads around the city. He rescued several hundred cars during the course of the week, just because he wanted to help.

“Well, put yourself in their shoes,” he told a local TV station. “If you were sitting on the side of the road with your wife and your kids and you’re freezing in the car, and it’s not running and you don’t have anywhere to go and you don’t have anyone to call, what do you do?”

“I’ve seen wreckers turning people away because they won’t pull them out due to liability. You need to stay in your car and just freeze to death? If I was in that spot, I would beg and hope that somebody would help me. So that’s what I’m doing.”


Boom. I would hope somebody would help me, so that’s what I’m doing. Real king shit right there. He reportedly said his inspiration was when he was involved in a dangerous car accident last year. He said he can’t walk for more than an hour or two, but he can drive a truck, so he’s been doing that to help. Helping anyone he can.

One woman he saved wrote a lengthy Facebook post about his efforts, saying he was an “angel.” He even gave the TV station his telephone number in case people are stuck and need a hand.

When tragedy strikes, nothing is more disheartening when politicians try to manipulate to serve some agenda that bears little resemblance to reality. Sure, some politicians raised money for charities and did welfare checks and helped constituents, and some went on TV or on vacation.

But the true heroes are the people who want to help, in any small way they can, and find a way to do help their neighbor through something terrible. One dude, helping hundreds of stranded drivers, for no charge. Just because it’s the right thing to do.

The Dad Staff is donating to a collection of food and warming centers throughout Texas to help families in need. Impact Your World allows us to contribute to 14 organizations, including The Red Cross, Mercy Chefs, Austin Pets Alive, as well as local food banks in Dallas, Houston, and Austin. If you are able, please consider donating any amount here.

Orangutan Dad Swings Into Parenting After Mate’s Death

Berani and Cerah
(Denver Zoo)

The 2010s were certainly a decade of gender-norm bending in America and beyond, with stay-at-home dads (among other things) becoming more mainstream. But apparently, the human race isn’t the only group able to torch the status quo of traditional gender roles, as evidenced by Berani, a male orangutan at the Denver Zoo.

Many orangutans live well into their 40s or even 50s, so when female Sumatran orangutan Nias — nicknamed “Queen Bee” — died at 32 in mid-December, both her orangutan and human families were devastated.

However, Berani, her mate, quickly assumed the role of caretaker to the couple’s 2-year-old daughter Cerah. Similar to a human father, he’s “so attentive and protective of her, seeing to all her needs. He will carry her, comfort her, and even snuggles her when she sleeps,” zoo officials said.

Wild orangutan males aren’t usually involved in child-rearing, so “to see Berani step up as ‘Mr. Mom‘ is an extremely rare situation — and Cerah couldn’t have asked for a better dad.”

Berani and Cerah Cuddle
(Denver Zoo)

In fact, fathers taking care of their young is rare even in the zoo world, not just in the wild. Cindy Cossaboon, a zookeeper at the Denver Zoo, told CBS4 that she’d only heard of one other zoo case of a male orangutan stepping up to the Dad plate.

Still, considering how devoted a mate Berani was to Nias, those who knew the couple well can’t be too surprised he remains devoted to their offspring.

He “became instantly attached” to Nias upon arriving at the zoo, and “if she wasn’t around, he would not eat his biscuits and if she was around, he would share his food with her. It was [her] world and we all just lived in it,” her eulogy stated.

So far, Berani and Cerah are doing extremely well, as is Nias’s other daughter, 10-year-old Hesty, who has stepped up herself to play big sis to Cerah in light of their mother’s absence. “The three of them are sticking together and moving forward,” according to the zoo’s Facebook page.

Berani and Cerah
(Denver Zoo)

Great job, Berani! The Dad salutes you.

American Girl Doll of the Year Is an Animal-Loving, Wildfire Fighting Badass

Kira Bailey
(American Girl)

American Girl just unveiled their Girl of the Year for 2021. Her name is Kira Bailey and she’s an inquisitive 10-year-old passionate about animals who goes on an adventure to the Australian Outback. When she visits her aunt’s wildlife sanctuary she must protect her family and the animals she loves from a raging wildfire. Kind of a lot for a 10-year-old to deal with!

Admittedly, American Girl dolls were not my thing growing up (I didn’t have any sisters, so not really on my radar). But as a dad with three daughters, you gotta be flexible and learn to roll with what they are into. And the American Girl company has helped push the envelope for inclusiveness, featuring the first doll with hearing loss and the first child catalogue model with Down syndrome.

And as the dad of a nature slash animal obsessed daughter, she’s gonna be into it. The company is partnering with the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education service by supporting the organization’s mission to preserve Australian Wildlife by matching customer donations. The company said the wildfires in Australia and the U.S. earlier this year played a major part in dictating the story of their Girl of the Year doll.

“Kira joins our lineup of diverse and purposeful characters who star in stories that reflect the realities of the times,” said a spokesman from American Girl. “Through Kira, we hope our fans will learn we all have a part to play in taking positive action for our planet.”

The doll comes with a host of outback-themed accessories, but also the typical book accompaniment when it comes to rounding out her story and who she is. It’s all about the 10-year-old excited to leave Michigan for the summer (who wouldn’t be psyched to leave Michigan?) and care for animals at her aunt’s Wildlife Sanctuary and vet clinic in Australia. The company will also have a series of videos inspired by Kira on their YouTube page.

She does learn a lesson that should resonate with young kids (and really, all of us after 2020) everywhere: “you can’t let the fear of the worst keep you from living your best.”

Koala Breaks Into Australian House and Makes Herself at Home in Christmas Tree

Koala breaks into home and chills in Christmas tree
(Facebook/1300Koalaz)

This year, out of necessity, most of us will end up having a quiet holiday at home. Though it’s tough not being able to see friends and family in person, it does undeniably remove one huge holiday stressor – playing host to a house full of guests. Last week, however, Amanda McCormick from southern Australia found herself dealing with an unexpected guest of the furry variety – a young koala, who decided to break into Amanda’s house and make herself at home in her Christmas tree.

Though koalas are undeniably cute as heck, when threatened, they can become extremely aggressive. Fortunately for Australians, rescue organizations like 1300Koalaz exist to protect the adorable critters. Though the 1300Koalaz exists solely to help the wide-eyed marsupials, Amanda’s call was baffling.

The organization shared on Facebook, “This evening our hotline operator took a call. At first, she thought she was the victim of a prank call. But no, a koala desperate to get in the Christmas spirit had wandered into Amanda McCormick’s house and decided it wanted to be the fairy on the Christmas tree.”

🎼Tis the season to be jolly
Koalalalala Lalalala 🎵

This evening our hotline operator took a call. …

Posted by 1300Koalaz on Wednesday, December 2, 2020

And well, at least for a little while, the holiday koala did indeed get to embody the spirit of Christmas. The adorable photo shows Amanda’s beautifully-decorated tree in a bright corner of her house, the koala just chillin’ among the ornaments and decorative snowflakes.

Due to the destruction of their natural habitat, the koala population has been in decline. Their population is especially vulnerable due to bushfires, which quickly destroy the eucalyptus trees koalas call home. Just this year, nearly 5,000 koalas were killed in an Australian bushfire which is said to be over 10% of their population in New South Wales. Since many koalas are now forced to live alongside humans, home break-ins are not entirely unheard of. Thankfully, Amanda’s furry guest chose the right home – the young koala got to spend some time soaking up the holiday cheer.

Sadly, the party had to end for the holiday koala eventually – once the kind folks from 1300Koalaz arrived, the koala was gently escorted from Amanda’s home. The young koala took the L and returned to a far less festive tree, but we like to think she at least grabbed an ornament on her way out as a reminder of the Christmas spirit.

Robert Irwin Celebrates 17th Birthday With an Emotional Throwback Video of Dad

Robert Irwin Birthday Video Australia Zoo
(Instagram/robertirwinphotography)

Since the death of Steve Irwin in 2006, the Irwin family has done an incredible job both continuing his legacy and keeping his memory alive. The Australia Zoo, home of the Crocodile Hunter, has remained an enormous part of the Irwins’ lives even 14 years on. The zoo grew from a small reptile park run by Steve and a wildlife rehabilitation facility for predatory mammals run by Terri into the sprawling conservation hub it is today – but now, with another generation of Irwins.

The Australia Zoo has been an enormous part of Bindi and Robert Irwin’s lives since they were born. Their parents met at Steve’s reptile park, and even the couple’s honeymoon was spent documenting their rescue of a crocodile – a trip that went on to become the first episode of the iconic Crocodile Hunter series.

 

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A post shared by Australia Zoo (@australiazoo)

Robert Irwin was just two years old when his dad tragically died, but he too followed in his dad’s enormous, mud-caked footprints. Robert hosts a children’s TV show called Robert’s Real Life Adventures, a program filmed at his family’s Australia Zoo that educates kids about conservation and helps them love wildlife just as much as he does.

On his 17th birthday, the Australia Zoo presented Robert with a touching video filled with memories. The video begins with Steve talking about Robert’s birth, and as his narration continues, the video takes us through Robert’s life. From just minutes old in the arms of his loving dad to more recent videos of Robert working at the Australia Zoo, the moving tribute is a nod to just how proud Steve would be of his only son.

Robert’s caption read, “Our lovely Australia Zoo crew made this beautiful video to celebrate my birthday, and it means the world to me. I am beyond honoured to continue my dad’s legacy and I hope more than anything that he would be proud.”

Steve’s narration highlights just how important fatherhood was to him. He recalled, “seeing the light” when Bindi was born, and when Robert was born. In those moments, he knew. “This is why I was put here.”

Steve dreamt of his own kids following in his footsteps, carrying on the legacy that was so near to his heart. “When they’re ready to run up our mission, I will gladly step aside,” Steve’s voice says shakily.

The video proceeds to show Robert making a daring rescue, grinning as he holds various animals, looking almost indistinguishable from his late dad. The duality of heartbreak and absolute joy in the video is undeniable – the sadness that comes with knowing that Steve never got to see his son grow up, combined with the beauty of watching Robert become the man his dad only dared to dream he could be.

In the video’s conclusion, Steve’s words resonate more deeply than he could have possibly known at that moment. “Then and only then I will know that I have achieved my ultimate goal,” he says, envisioning his kids carrying on his legacy. “My job will be done, and I guarantee you, it will be the proudest moment of my life.”

 

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Bindi Irwin Wrote a Book Honoring Her Family’s Conservation History and Legacy

Bindi Irwin wrote a book about her family's conservation history
(Instagram/bindisueirwin)

As if Bindi Irwin wasn’t busy enough with her recent wedding, her own conservation work, and preparing to become a first-time mom, she’s taken on another important task. Over the past 5 years, Bindi has been compiling her dad’s old photos, journal entries, and archives to document the history of the Australia Zoo, the Crocodile Hunter’s legacy. It’s been a priority for the Irwin family to keep Steve Irwin‘s memory alive over the 14 years since he passed away, and this touching book is the family’s most recent tribute.

The announcement was made on November 15, which coincides with Steve Irwin Day. Steve Irwin Day is a day dedicated to honoring Steve Irwin’s memory, along with everything he accomplished in the world of conservation. Though Irwin left this world far too young, his family has made it clear that they will proudly continue where he left off.

 

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Bindi’s Book, titled Creating a Conservation Legacy, takes readers through a remarkable 50 years of history. The Australia Zoo’s website explains, “Join Bindi Irwin as she takes you on the amazing journey from humble beginnings through to where we are today – effecting change in our own backyard and around the globe. It’s a substantial story that includes hundreds of photos from the Irwin family archives – many that have never been seen before.”

Bindi shared the exciting news on Instagram, posting a picture of herself alongside her brother, mom, and husband – each holding a copy of Bindi’s touching book. The book’s cover contains a classic Irwin family photo, with Terri and Steve each holding one of their adorable kids when they were younger.

 

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The Instagram caption reads, “Almost 5 years in the making. Looking through countless archives, Dad’s old journals, Australia Zoo booklets and photographs tucked away in office corners. It’s finally here. I wrote this book to capture the very essence of our extraordinary 50 year history. Now, I’m sharing this journey with you.”

Bindi’s husband Chandler was quick to show support to his wife, thrilled to see the culmination of years of effort. “Your hard work and dedication to writing this book was amazing,” he commented. “Congratulations sweetheart.”

Touching Tributes Poured in for The Crocodile Hunter on Steve Irwin Day

November 15 Steve Irwin Day
(Twitter/wildwarriors)

14 years ago the world lost Steve Irwin, a man whose larger-than-life personality was outshined only by his enormous heart. The Crocodile Hunter inspired people around the world to take an active interest in animals, and he made wildlife conservation a priority throughout his life. Irwin left a mark on the world of environmental activism, so much so that November 15 has been named Steve Irwin Day. The day was chosen because it aligns with the birthday of one of Steve’s favorite animals, a tortoise from the Galápagos Islands named Harriet who lived to be 175.

The Steve Irwin Day website explains, “As wildlife warriors, we believe that every life is worth rescuing. We believe that anyone can be a Wildlife Warrior. We believe khaki is not just a colour – it’s an attitude! We believe that if you save one – you can save the species. We believe that even kids can make a difference. We believe in living the motto each day – KHAKI IT! Remember, anyone can make a difference. All you have to do is KHAKI IT!”

Tributes to the one and only Crocodile Hunter poured in on this year’s Steve Irwin Day, splashing shades of khaki across social media.

Steve’s daughter Bindi shared a classic picture of her dad

Robert Irwin, Steve’s son reminded everyone to wear their khaki

Pictures of the Crocodile hunter remind us how much he valued both conservation and family

Even The Wiggles showed up to say few words

Animal Planet reminded us that there will never be anyone quite like Steve Irwin

The Australia Zoo, “Home of the Crocodile Hunter,” shared a classic Irwin-ism

Terri Irwin, Steve’s wife, invited us all to celebrate

An Australian YouTuber shared a memory that made us all jealous

Chandler Powell, Bindi Irwin’s husband, shared a beautiful tribute

The Wildlife Warriors, founded by Steve and Terri Irwin, shared multiple quotes about the Crocodile Hunter’s impact

Happy Steve Irwin Day to everyone whose life the Crocodile Hunter touched. And remember, wear your khaki.