As the sun rose on another beautiful day on the Sunshine Coast, an enormous Burmese python slithered slowly into a bedroom. In the distance, the call of the ring-tailed lemurs signaled the start of a new day. Lying asleep in bed, the young girl didn’t notice the snake’s progress.
Hisssssssssssss . The snake took a leisurely route toward the bed, slowly winding up the bedpost until its head came to rest on the pillow. The snake’s tongue flickered in and out, touching the girl’s face.
The girl’s face twitched a little, but her eyes remained closed. The snake let out another quiet hisssssssssssss .
The girl’s hand reached out and slowly came to rest on the head of the snake.
“Hmmm. Feels…scaly?” Bindi Irwin opened her eyes and smiled.
The snake smiled back.
“Have you come to wish me a happy birthday, Basil?”
Bindi’s mum, Terri, and her brother, Robert, entered the bedroom, still in their pj’s, and started singing. “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you…”
Bindi jumped out of bed, super-excited. “Yay!”
She rushed over to her mum and brother, and gave them both a big hug.
“Robert thought Basil would make a perfect birthday alarm clock,” Terri said with a smile.
“Good thinking, little buddy,” Bindi replied. “What’s for breakfast, Mum?”
“I think you might already know the answer to that, Bindi,” Terri replied.
“Woohoo, it’s pancakes!” Robert and Bindi high-fived. Robert moved over to the bed to pick up Basil, who looked like he would be quite happy to snooze on Bindi’s bed for the rest of the day.
“Come on, lazybones,” Robert said as he lifted the snake onto his shoulders. “We’ve got pancakes to eat!”
He zoomed out of the room toward the kitchen.
Terri looked down at Bindi and gave her a kiss on the forehead. “Our little girl’s growing up. Your dad would have loved to have been here today, sweetheart.”
Bindi gave her mum’s hand a squeeze. “I know, Mum,” she said. “He’d have wanted it to be a fantastic day.”
“And it will be,” Terri replied, looking at her watch with a worried expression. “Oops. As long as we get a move on!”
Bindi and Terri headed off down the hallway. “You and Basil better have left some for us, Robert!” Bindi called out along the way.
The Irwin family lived at Australia Zoo. They were a family dedicated to wildlife conservation. Bindi’s dad, Steve, had helped change attitudes toward crocodiles with his huge enthusiasm and love for the creatures. Australia Zoo had started off as a reptile park, and they still loved their reptiles, but it had now grown into a big beautiful zoo, complete with giraffes, tigers, and elephants, as well as a whole swag of gorgeous Australian animals.
After Bindi’s dad had passed away, Bindi had made a promise to continue her dad’s great work alongside her family. She planned to keep that promise for the rest of her life. And her birthday was a yearly reminder of all the good that could come of passing on the message of wildlife conservation to as many people as possible.
She loved her birthday parties at Australia Zoo. This year was an underwater-themed birthday, and money earned from the day would go toward preventing whaling in Antarctica.
Bindi and Robert had just finished their last mouthfuls of delicious pancake when there was a knock at the front door.
“I’ll get it,” Robert said, and ran to open the door. There on the doorstep was a very pretty mermaid. “Ummm, Bindi, there’s a mermaid here.” Robert cast a suspicious look at the mermaid and sped off down the hallway.
Bindi raced to the door. “Oh my gosh, you look amaaaazing, Rosie!”
Rosie Bellamy was Bindi’s best friend. They had known each other since they were tiny. Rosie’s dad was a vet at the Wildlife Hospital, and her mum worked at the zoo too, so Rosie and Bindi got to spend heaps of time together.
Rosie laughed. “I wasn’t sure if all the glitter was a bit much. I