Raine the koala before and after her recovery journey © Darcy Modina & WWF-Australia

Raine the koala before and after her recovery journey © Darcy Modina & WWF-Australia

From floods to freedom: Raine’s journey

04 Oct 2022

Keywords
  • koalas
  • queensland
  • threatened species

Raine was just a joey when she was found soaked, shivering and separated from her mother in Wivenhoe Pocket, an hour west of Brisbane, during the February 2022 flood disaster. The little koala was only 16 months old, far too young to be on her own, and the chances of her surviving alone at that age were slim.

With her mum nowhere in sight, the residents who found Raine saved her from the edge of the surging Brisbane River and brought her to the closest care centre they could access - a wildlife rescue service run by Petrina Paidel.

With roads damaged and flood waters still rising, Petrina was cut off from veterinary services and had no option but to do all she could to keep Raine warm and well-fed. When the water finally subsided, local koala carer Marilyn Spletter was able to pick up Raine and take her to the local RSPCA wildlife hospital for a health check. Concerningly, it became clear Raine was sick, and the vet gave her a body condition score of four to five out of ten.

Marilyn took the little koala home, and from there, Raine’s long recovery journey began.

At first, she kept to herself, conserving her energy to recover from the ordeal she had been through. But eventually, as Raine recovered, Marilyn started to recognise this little joey had quite a playful temperament. From stealing the freshest leaves from other joeys in care to nudging them off the comfiest branch, Raine was becoming quite the bossyboots.

After a few months in care, Raine had grown from a weak, scared joey to an independent little koala. Now bouncing from the branches, it was clear Raine was ready for the next step in her recovery journey.

 

Raine stretching between the branches of a eucalyptus tree © WWF-Australia

Marilyn brought the now boisterous koala to another rehabilitation centre where she would have access to more space and bigger trees. Raine built up her climbing muscles and became an expert at the two key aspects of a koala’s lifestyle - fussing over the tastiest eucalyptus leaves and sleeping up to 18 hours a day.

 

With her climbing muscles developed and daily habits nailed down, Raine was fully grown and finally equipped to be released in August, almost six months after she came into care.

Marilyn brought Raine back to Petrina’s property, where there was an abundance of lush eucalyptus trees for Raine to munch on. Together they helped her up a tree into her new home, and suddenly Raine wasn’t a flood victim anymore, she was a fully grown koala ready to become a potential mum and help save her species.

 

Almost a month on, Marilyn visited Petrina’s property. She found koala scratch marks on big eucalypt trees near where Raine was released, a sign that Raine is happy, healthy and exploring her new home. 

 

    Marilyn and Petrina preparing Raine for her release © WWF-Australia   Marilyn and Petrina watching Raine climb up to freedom © WWF-Australia   Raine getting comfortable in her new home © WWF-Australia

 

Successful koala rehabilitation and recovery are essential in helping koala populations along Australia’s east coast. Koalas are listed as Endangered in Qld, NSW and the ACT, so it’s vital we do all we can to help individuals like Raine to give this iconic animal a chance to thrive.

 

Want to help koalas? Here’s how you can make a difference:
Adopt a koala to help protect and safeguard the future of this iconic animal.
• Discover if koalas or other animals need protection in your local area using WWF-Australia’s My Backyard tool, and find out how you can help.
• Tune in to Scat Chat with WWF to learn about the weird and wonderful ways that animal scat (including koala poo!) is being used to help wildlife conservation.
• Keep an eye out for upcoming community tree planting events with organisations like Bangalow Koalas.
• Find out how you can help regenerate Australia’s wildlife by visiting wwf.org.au/wildlife

 

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