Wes Mannion is the best friend of late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin. Mannion was also one of the select few guests who attended Bindi Irwin’s impromptu wedding to husband Chandler Powell. Bindi hosted the rushed ceremony on March 25, hours before Australia instituted a national lockdown because of the global coronavirus pandemic. Originally, Bindi and Powell were slated to say “I do” on April 4 at the Australia Zoo.
It was her dream wedding. “We had been planning for almost a year,” Bindi told People magazine, “but as soon as this all started happening, we had to look at different options to make sure everyone was safe.”
“We thought about postponing, because you want to share this day with everyone, but when it boiled down to it, we both just said, ‘Look, we desperately want to get married, and no matter what the future holds, at least we’ll be husband and wife. We can take on the world together,’ ” Bindi said. “It was a tough decision but absolutely the right one.”
Bindi and Powell met while she was giving a tour of the zoo. Powell, a native of Florida and former professional wakeboarder, had traveled to Australia for a competition.
Bindi revealed her surprise wedding in an Instagram post. “We wish all of our friends and family could have been there with us, however it’s lovely that we will be able to share photos and videos,” she said. “Right now we’re encouraging the world to hold onto hope and love, which will carry us forward during this profound time in history.”
Those who didn’t get a chance to see Bindi and Powell say their wedding vows will get a chance when Crikey! It’s the Irwins: Bindi’s Wedding, a one-hour special, airs Saturday, April 18 at 8 p.m. ET on Animal Planet.
“It features special moments between the couple and their family including Robert walking Bindi down the aisle, Bindi lighting a candle to honor her father, Steve Irwin, during the ceremony, and in true Irwin fashion, special appearances by their animal family including koalas, macaws and snakes,” a description for the special says.
To find out more about Bindis wedding and how Mannion was involved, continue reading below for five fast facts:
1. Steve Saved Wes’ Life Once
Wes and Steve worked together at the Australia Zoo for more than two decades. As noted by ScreenRant, Wes has talked about the time his friend saved his life several times. The incident happened in 2001 when Wes was attacked by a Saltwater crocodile named Graham. The reptile bit Wes in the thigh and dragged him underwater. When Wes recalled the encounter, he said he thought he was going to be eaten by the predator.
But Wes was able to survive the attack because of Steve’s quick mind. Steve jumped on top of Graham shove a wooden stick in his mouth. This stopped Graham from being able to continue to attack West and allowed Steve to rescue Wes to safety.
Wes didn’t blame the animal in a retelling quoted by Los Angeles magazine.
He came over the top of me, and he’s just about to grab me on the head, and I swear to God, I closed my eyes and thought, “She’s all over,” because they’ve got 3,000 per square inch of jaw pressure. Next thing I know something punches me in the head. I open my eyes, and it was Graham’s tail; he’d swung around because Steve had jumped on the back of him. I jumped up, and Steve looked at me like I was a ghost and said, “Let’s get out of here!” He’d stuck a stick in his mouth, and we jumped over the fence. Without him I would have been killed. Without him, I would have been killed ten times over because he saved my life so many times.
2. Wes and Steve Met at the Zoo & Were Like Brothers
Wes met Steve when he was 15 years old in 1985 at Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, as Australia Zoo was previously called. After seeing Steve with a crocodile named Allison, Wes begged Steve, who was eight years older than him, to allow him to work at the zoo as a volunteer.
“He eventually gave in and I knew I had found my calling,” Wes wrote in a 2017 op-ed for Sunshine Coast Daily. “He took me under his wing and we became very close.”
“In between feeding, jumping and catching crocs and snakes, the biggest thing that really bonded us was the zoo,” Wes wrote. “It’s all we ever talked and dreamed about and to say we were obsessed was an understatement.”
3. Wes Helped Film the First Episode of ‘The Crocodile Hunter’
Knowing Steve since he was 15 years old, Wes was there when Wes met Terri, Steve’s wife and mother of his two children, daughter Bindi and Robert Irwin. Wes recalled that everything chanced when Steve met Terri, who he described as “a young American tourist.” They had a “whirlwind” romance and were soon married.
“They had an interesting honeymoon,” Wes said. “The whole crew came along and together we filmed the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter.”
From that moment on, life became a blur. Steve and Terri were the perfect match and they complemented each other.
She dreamt big, had an excellent business acumen, was fiercely loyal, wildlife crazy and believed in Australia Zoo.
We all thrived because we all had the same vision: to spread the word of conservation, build the most unique zoo in the world and put the Sunshine Coast on the map.
Everything they made through filming got poured back into the zoo or other conservation projects – from acquiring land to protecting endangered wildlife and ecosystems, to protecting tigers and elephants and a state-of-the-art wildlife hospital.
4. Wes Said Steves Spirit Lives On in His Children
Ten years after Steves untimely death, Wes wrote that his friends spirit lives on through his two children. Both Bindi and Robert have inherited their fathers love for the outdoors and animals.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since we lost Steve and these past years have been tough for all of us,” Wes wrote. “He left such a strong impression on every single one of us.”
“Two minutes talking to Robert or Bindi and you can feel Steve radiating from them,” he said. “They have put their hearts and souls into continuing their mum and dad’s legacy.”
5. Wes Works Closely With the Irwins Every Day
Wes still works at the Australian Zoo and considers it his life. The Irwins are like his family.
“Steve was a ‘now man’,” Wes told the Sunshine Daily Coast in a 2018 article. “Keeping up with him was unbelievable. We’d start each day with a cup of tea and talk about where the zoo was going – the future of the zoo…We know what his dream was.”
“The zoo’s been my life,” he added. “It’s amazing to see it grow from something so small (1.6 hectares in 1970) to what it is now.”
While the reporter for the Sunshine Daily Coast was on a tour of the zoo with Wes, they passed Bindi. “We all spend a lot of time together,” Wes shared. “Terri’s (Irwin) such an awesome mother. She (Bindi) is close to my family.”