Interview: Ali Bee from Magnetic Island Koala Hospital
Born and bred in Yorkshire, conservationist Ali Bee moved to Australia to rescue endangered koalas in 2000
I was born in Beverley before moving to Hornsea.
I’ve always loved animals and my heroes include Steve Irwin, David Attenborough and Jane Goodall. After studying at the Royal Veterinary College in London and working at several practices, I spent a year in Hong Kong in 1999, and wasn’t sure where to go after that. I visited relatives in Australia and fell in love with it, so decided to stay.
I live on Magnetic Island, and as soon as I got there I felt there was a need to help koalas.
My husband Tim and I started taking them home to care for them. Our daughter Izzy, who’s 10 now, has been surrounded by the animals since she was born.
Generally, the koala population isn’t doing very well in Australia.
On Magnetic Island, there’s between 800 and 1,000, and in the country as a whole there’s only 40–60,000 left in the wild. The biggest threat they face is land clearing – it’s so sad to see their habitats ripped up. The second is chlamydia, along with various other health issues including sore eyes and temporary blindness caused by green ants.
We take in any koalas we find which are injured or sick.
Our very first patient had fallen between two granite boulders. He did really well and was eventually released, and we’ve had a steady stream of animals since. We take them in if they’re found in areas they shouldn’t be in, such as residential gardens or roads. We haven't been without koalas for four years – at one stage we had 13 at our hospital. Crikey, the koala featuring in Dodo Heroes is really special to us. We had him in our care for a year – he formed an instant bond with Izzy.
A friend of mine knows a lot of filmmakers so that’s how we got introduced to the production team behind Dodo Heroes.
It’s been an awesome experience. The programme has been beautifully made and it’s really helped promote Australia’s unsung heroes who go above and beyond to help the animals in their care.
The best thing about Australia is how beautiful the scenery is.
I came here for three days, and I’m still here 18 years later. It’s so peaceful and the wildlife is unbelievable.
I’d love to go back to Yorkshire this year.
I miss it hugely – the countryside is amazing and Hornsea will always be a big part of me. People in Yorkshire can help our cause by donating through the Magnetic Island Koala Hospital Facebook page. We need as many people as possible to get involved to make this a sustainable project.
Dodo Heroes airs tonight on Animal Planet at 9pm.