Steve Irwin’s best friend Wes Mannion quietly leaves directorship of Australia Zoo

Steve Irwin’s best friend Wes Mannion has quietly stepped down as director of Australia Zoo, with the crocodile hunter’s widow Terri now in whole management of the household business. 

Daily Mail Australia can solely reveal Wes, a longtime Irwin household friend and distinguished determine within the zoo for greater than three many years, mysteriously left his position with out fanfare and with no rationalization supplied to the general public.

The abrupt finish to his tenure got here simply months after he was chosen to be one of simply three visitors at Bindi’s intimate wedding ceremony when it was expedited to March 2020 and attendee numbers slashed because of the impending nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

Once a stalwart at household occasions, Mannion has additionally been notably absent from the Irwins’ social media accounts ever since. 

Company information obtained by Daily Mail Australia present Wes’s position as secretary of the business additionally ended on the identical date that year, July 14.

According to the paperwork, Terri has been each the only real director and secretary of the Queensland wildlife park since his departure greater than two years in the past.

Despite eagle-eyed followers elevating questions on his absence, the management change has not been publicly addressed by Australia Zoo, the Irwins, or Mannion.

Wes is pictured with the Irwins on the unveiling of Steve’s star on the Hollywood stroll of fame in April 2018  

Documents obtained by Daily Mail Australia present that Wes Mannion’s position as director and secretary of Australia Zoo ended on July 14, 2020 

Uncertainty about his employment standing first started circulating on-line in December that year after followers realised the 52-year-old was notably lacking from key Australia Zoo platforms and initiatives.  

‘Wondering whether or not Wes Mannion nonetheless works at Australia Zoo is occupying means an excessive amount of of my brain space proper now. But, like why is not he on the web site anybody or on the Crikey ‘Rona particular’?’ one lady tweeted.  

Between January 2021 to April this year, a number of others tagged or wrote instantly on the zoo or the Irwins social media pages asking if Wes was nonetheless an worker – however didn’t obtain a response. 

‘Where is Wes Mannion??? Is he okay? I miss him on the exhibits and I by no means right here you guys discuss him anymore? Is he nonetheless the director?’ a self-described ‘massive fan’ – tweeted.

‘Yes he disappeared after Covid,’ one other particular person mentioned. 

Daily Mail Australia made a number of calls to Mannion on Thursday, however all went unanswered. 

Wes is pictured with the Irwins on the Steve Irwin Day Gala Dinner in 2018 – having been agency household pals for a few years

Australia Zoo has been contacted for remark. 

Wes first met Steve as a 15-year-old when he visited Australia Zoo, which was then referred to as the Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, together with his mother and father within the Nineteen Eighties.

After watching Steve, who was eight years his senior, with a crocodile, he begged the wildlife handler to let him work on the zoo.

The legendary conservationist agreed and the pair grew to become very shut, with Wes given the nickname Steve’s ‘youthful brother’ and dubbed an honorary member of the Irwin clan.

The then-teenager shortly grew to become an integral half of the animal park and, in 1988, was solely the second worker outdoors of the Irwin household to be given full-time employment. 

By 1992, he grew to become the pinnacle reptile keeper and curator, then picked up a administration position in 1995, earlier than being promoted to director within the early 2000s.  

Wes was the one non-relative visitor at Bindi’s wedding ceremony (pictured) to Chandler Powell in March 2020

Following Steve’s shock 2006 dying from a stingray assault, Wes maintained an in depth bond with the household and mentioned he had assumed a ‘father determine position’, serving to Terri increase Bindi and Robert, now aged 24 and 18, respectively. 

‘I like Terri, she is [like] my sister, love her to dying. Most importantly, I owe it to Stevie to take care of her. I do know that if I’d died, Stevie would have been like a lion with my household,’ Wes informed Woman’s Day in 2007. 

‘I’ll by no means be their dad, you possibly can by no means exchange your father, however I’ll be a father determine and loving uncle.’ 

Photos posted on-line through the years have proven the tight knit clans collectively at numerous occasions, together with the 2018 unveiling of Steve’s star on the Hollywood stroll of fame and Steve Irwin Day Gala Dinner in 2015. 

More lately, Wes was chosen alongside Terri and Robert as one of simply three visitors to look at Bindi marry Chandler Powell, 25, on March 25, 2020 – simply hours earlier than new legal guidelines on social gatherings had been rolled out because of the pandemic. 

Wes was shut with the Irwins for many years however has been notably lacking from latest photographs

Wes pictured with Robert throughout a crocodile present at Australia Zoo – the place he labored for many years

Four months earlier, he asserted his position as a father determine throughout a reside present at Australia Zoo by telling Chandler he needed to ‘show himself’ ‘earlier than marrying Bindi by strolling into crocodile-infested waters. 

But within the months after the couple married, the shut friend grew to become notably absent from their circle, failing to look in any latest photographs with the Irwins – together with the newly weds’ one-year-old daughter, Grace Warrior Irwin Powell. 

Wes grew to become bestfriends with Steve after the pair met at Australia Zoo within the Nineteen Eighties 

Although the explanations for the separation stay unclear, it’s not the primary time the well-known household have grappled with inside rifts. 

After Steve’s dying, Terri fell out together with his father Bob, who alongside his spouse Lyn based Beerwah Reptile Park – now referred to as Australia Zoo – in 1970. 

Despite handing possession of the park to Steve and Terri in 1992, he had remained concerned within the business – however abruptly left in 2008 after reportedly being at odds with Terri over the way it must be run. 

He later reached a monetary settlement and acquired a property close to Kingaroy, and has been estranged from Terri and her kids ever since. 

In 2019, his fractured relationship with Bindi made headlines after she wrote a scathing submit in Instagram claiming he had proven ‘little interest in spending time with me or my household’ and had ‘ignored her’ since she was baby.

Bindi mentioned her 58-year-old mom nonetheless writes to him and sends birthday playing cards and Christmas presents, however claims they’ve obtained no reply. 

While Bob didn’t reply to the claims, two of Bindi’s cousins spoke out of their grandfather’s defence saying they had been ‘livid’ and ‘appalled’ by her feedback. 

In one other quarrel, Terri has additionally reportedly fallen out with Steve’s older sister Joy Muscillo and her household after firing her husband Frank, the zoo’s normal supervisor, in 2015. 

Wes is pictured alongside Terri, Bindi and Robert at a memorial service for Steve at Australia Zoo in Beerwah, in September 2006

How they had been: The Irwins had been as soon as close-knit, working collectively on the family-run Australia Zoo on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Pictured: Bob Snr together with his kids Mandy, Joy and Steve, Steve’s spouse Terri, and their two kids Bindi and Robert 

Frank was reportedly ‘marched off the property’, with Joy and her grownup kids, who had been additionally employed on the business, leaving quickly afterwards. 

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia in 2019, Ms Muscillo mentioned the state of affairs was ‘very unhappy’. 

The administration revelation comes amid latest rumours the animal sanctuary is in monetary strife and had made a number of employees redundant final year because it struggled to attract guests amid Covid restrictions. 

Citing sources near the household, New Idea journal claimed Terri was thought of the choice of promoting the business for personal {and professional} causes. 

While the reviews are unconfirmed, the Sunshine Coast lately introduced it could be extending its business mannequin.  

Last week, Australia Zoo revealed will probably be renting out its grounds as a marriage venue for {couples} to trade nuptials. 

‘Tie the knot in our world-famous Australia Zoo grounds with our lovely animals,’ the venue wrote. 

‘Whether you’re in search of a small intimate expertise or a bigger scale occasion, we’ve got the proper location to your wedding ceremony celebrations!’ 

Two years after Steve’s dying, Bob Snr abruptly left Australia Zoo – which he’d based in 1970 – after reportedly falling out with Terri about how the business must be run. Pictured: Terri, Bob Snr, Bindi and Robert attending Steve’s memorial service in 2006

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