Izzy is showing that unusual bond in the new Netflix series “Izzy’s Koala World,” which follows the girl as she helps her veterinarian mom and takes care of the tree-climbing marsupials. It premieres Tuesday.
“They all seem to gravitate toward her,” says her mom, Ali. “They’re wild animals. They’re terrified. They need that calming, gentle, quiet, loving presence.”
Izzy and her family live on Magnetic Island, which is off the east coast of Australia and is home to hundreds of koalas. The animals rely on the eucalyptus tree for habitat and food. They sleep 18 to 22 hours a day.
When koalas on the island need help, Izzy and her family welcome them into their animal sanctuary and nurture them until they’re ready to be released back into the wild.
“Do you need cuddles this morning?” she will ask one in her care. She’s also learned some tricks to discover how they’re feeling. “You can learn a lot from looking at their poop.”
During an interview with her dad and mom, Izzy cradled the family’s latest patient, a 14-month-old female koala they’ve named Pumpkin. Like most of the koalas they care for, Pumpkin was orphaned and needs help eating and maturing.
Izzy checks on the koalas every day, feeds them and plays with them. She plays with them in her bed, hugs them while brushing her teeth and helps them climb. Her dad calls her “the Koala Whisperer.”
Izzy’s bond with animals began early. Five weeks after being born, she was in her mom’s clinic. “She grew up with whatever [came] through the door. Seeing the connection between people and their animals was always something that she was very aware of,” her mom says.
The series follows Izzy as she cares for a procession of koalas — Chompy, Juliet, Twinkle, StormBoy and a favorite, Leia, named because of her very tufty ears, which remind Izzy of the “Star Wars” heroine Princess Leia. When it’s time to release them, Izzy is sad but ready.
“I miss them sometimes,” she says. “They feel happy and safe in care. But I know that they’ve got more of a life outside of the koala hospital.”
Her mom adds that they must be released so they can sustain the population. “We hope not to see them again,” Ali Bee says.
And while “Izzy’s Koala World” focuses on one animal, Ali believes it makes the case that looking after animals and the planet are intertwined. “We’ve all got to be aware that people, animals and planet — we’re all so much interconnected.”