BOB IRWIN had no idea what he was in for when he was asked to visit Wildlife HQ to help out with some advice on animals.
Zoo staff led him to an old barn on the property and threw open the doors to reveal a new reptile house dedicated to him.
Friends he has gathered during a lifetime of work with wildlife were on hand to celebrate and congratulate him.
"It was a complete surprise. I thought I was coming here to give some advice, some support," Mr Irwin said.
Mr Irwin has taken an increasing interest in Wildlife HQ since the zoo moved to Woombye from Brisbane's outer north, where it operated as Alma Park Zoo.
His involvement at Wildlife HQ and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has raised eyebrows given he was a founder of the reptile and fauna park which became Australia Zoo under the management of his son and daughter-in-law, Steve and Terri.
Mr Irwin is said to have not been involved with Australia Zoo since a rift developed with Terri following Steve's death.
He declined to engage in conversation about Australia Zooor his grandchildren, instead preferring to talk about the Wildlife HQ.
"I keep up with what Bindy and Robert are doing through the media but I don't want to get into that sort of stuff," he said.
Mr Irwin said he enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the animals and staff at Wildlife HQ.
He said he had met animals that were new to him, like Marly the sun bear, and would not mind "filling my pockets with a few cotton-top tamarins" but also enjoyed learning from the staff members.
"The staff here are young Australians and from my point of view, they are only kids, but they have some great ideas and new ways of doing things, and they've got the energy and passion to make thing happen," he said.
The new reptile house includes a signboard outlining Mr Irwin's work and his contribution to conservation.
Aside from liaising with other zoos, Mr Irwin said he was still keeping busy with his own conservation work, including cassowary research and his own crocodile research on Cape York.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.