She turns nine next month, but Bindi Irwin has the grace and poise of someone many years older. The daughter of the late Steve Irwin came up from the land Down Under — with her wildlife conservationist mom Terri — to talk about her new show, Bindi: The Jungle Girl (debuting Sat., June 9 at 5 p.m. ET on Discovery Kids) and My Daddy the Croc Hunter (Fri., June 8 at 9 p.m. ET on Animal Planet), a one-hour special about growing up with the beloved animal expert who died less than a year ago in a tragic stingray accident. EW.com spoke with Terri and young Bindi, who has inherited her father’s eyes, smile, and, of course, love of creatures. In the middle of a hectic day of TV appearances (the Today show) and diplomatic meet-and-greets (she visited the deputy Secretary-General of the U.N. for World Environment Day), the energetic youngster sat back in a hotel room overlooking New York’s Central Park and filled us in on her busy schedule.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is this your first time in New York City?
BINDI IRWIN: No, we’ve come here a lot. I love it here — it’s very beautiful. I love Central Park. Because you have building, building, building, building, building, TREES, building, building, building, building. So it’s really, really nice that we have something like that.
What are your favorite things to do here?
I love doing what I’m doing now, teaching people about wildlife. And I also love [pause] shopping here. FAO Schwarz and Toys R Us.
Have you been to American Girl Place?
Nooooooo. [Eyes open wide]
On the show, you show us the treehouse that you live in. What do you do when it rains?
It’s got a roof — it’s a pretty good treehouse. I love it.
I hear you sleep with a…snake?
I do. Corny the corn snake — he’s very cute. Some animals come and go, but I actually live with Corny the corn snake. And there’s Blacky, the black-headed python; Jaffa, my koala; and Ocker, my favorite little cockatoo. I have other birds also. Some elephants come and visit me — very nice. And Peru, the iguana. When you pet her head, she goes to sleep.
Did you bring any pets with you on this trip?
No, I wasn’t allowed to. [Forms air quotes and leans forward, conspiratorially…] Quarantine matters. I did bring my little pet brother, though. I love him very much. He’s very cute and just turned three-and-a-half.
Do you have a favorite animal?
I love crocodiles and snakes. I have a special talent with snakes, and I just love crocs. They’re very good mothers, they’re very good husbands and wives — they’re just great.
What would you say to girls your age who are grossed out by snakes and crocodiles?
We’re just getting pretty much further and further away from animals, and I think we really need to get closer to them because we’re just distancing ourselves from them so rapidly. We’re not that different. We might have different personalities and a different outside coat, but it’s like somebody came along and killed you for your skin. The bottom line is, don’t buy boots, bags, and belts made out of wildlife products. You just can’t do that. It’s very not nice. Like with shark finning, people actually cut sharks’ dorsal fins and put it in shark-fin soup and they just let the shark drown. And so that’s really sad, because all they use is their fins. If we kill a species, I like to say, That’s one brick off a hotel or a house, and pretty soon, if we start killing all the species, the house is going to fall down.
NEXT PAGE: What would Bindi’s dad have thought of her show?