This week, March break events are in full swing at the Toronto Zoo, although for a group of Bendale PS students, the real excitement was last Tuesday, when they were treated to a special screening of the straight-to-DVD sequel Free Willy 4: Escape from Pirate’s Cove, and a Q & A with star Bindi Irwin. At the event, all of the kids were given little plush orca whales, and 10 kids were selected to ask her questions.
“It was so different making a feature movie,” Bindi told the class in answer to their first question. “Usually, I just have done documentaries, where there is a crew of only about 3 people - this time there were over 100!” Talking about her favourite part of making the film she mentioned doing a scene where she gets really angry. “That was so unlike me,” she said laughing “my mom said she’d never seen me that angry - and neither had I.”
She said that it was really great as a young first time movie actor to work with someone as experienced as Beau Bridges, who plays her grandfather in the film. And she talked about what an experience it was to be filming on location. “The whole thing took 7 weeks to film, which was fun, since we got to stay in Africa” she said. “There, along with the penguins on set, I also got to meet wild penguins on a beach while collecting shells. It was really funny, since we went to play in the water, and when we turned around, the penguins had taken our shells. One of them was sitting on them! Eventually he lost interest though, and we got them back.”
Then, asked about her favourite animal, she named one that the students may not have heard about before. The echidna. “I love crocs and snakes,” she said, “but the echidna is my favourite.” Along with the platypus, the echidna is one of only two egg-laying mammals, she went on to explain to the kids in the room. “It’s called a monotreme.”
When asked how she related to the character Kirra in the movie, Bindi replied, “I think I relate to her, because she cares about animals like me. She was trying so hard to save the orca. In real life, I am trying to save the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve.” Asking the students for their help she said, “As kids, we’re the next decision makers of the future. We should be speaking out for what we believe in.” She explained that it’s good to write to governments about things like this. “And, there’s a petition you can sign at www.australianzoo.com.au”
Her favourite place in the world she said next, is Bali. “I used to go there with my dad when he would film documentaries there. The people and places are so nice there, and it brings back a lot of memories for me.”
The last two questions asked her about who she depends on the most and who’s her hero. “The two people I depend on the most,” she said, “are my mom and my brother, I love them, and they’re like my best friends. And my hero would have to be my dad. He taught me so much about conservation and I love him so much. Actually, when I found out that I would be doing this movie, one of the reasons I was really looking forward to it, is because he made a movie as well, called The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, so I really liked the idea that I was making one as well.”
At the end of the Q & A, Bindi was given a huge round of applause from the kids. She is a great thoughtful young speaker and assured this event will be a field trip the students there will never forget. Before she left, the students also got a group picture with her.
The DVD of Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove will be available in stores on April 20th from Warner Home Video.
- Erin V.