4 Mar 2022


This little koala joey, affectionately dubbed Raine because of her ordeal, is lucky to be alive.

Amid a torrential downpour, the young koala was separated from her Mum and soaked and shivering on the ground near the rapidly rising Brisbane River.

Her prospects looked bleak. Now she’s dry, warm and well fed.

Raine the rescued koala Joey, dry and fed
© Patrina Paidel

But there are potentially thousands more wildlife victims in Queensland and New South Wales still awaiting rescue after record rainfall.

That’s why the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia has launched an emergency flood appeal to help wildlife victims.

It’s hoped there can be many more happy endings like Raine’s.

For months, Darcy Modina and her family had seen Raine and her mother on their 10 acres of Brisbane River-front land at Wivenhoe Pocket, the suburb immediately below South East Queensland’s largest dam.

But on Saturday 26 February, the young koala was clearly in trouble. She was drenched and trembling near the river edge. Her Mum was nowhere to be seen.

Then came the order to evacuate. Darcy knew they couldn’t leave the joey behind.

“As soon as we wrapped the towel around her she was open to being warm and letting us hold her. She wasn’t scared at all, just exhausted,” said Darcy.

They bundled Raine into a green shopping bag and took her to the evacuation point: the Wivenhoe Pocket Rural Fire Brigade.

But Raine’s troubles were not over yet. Because of flooding they were cut off from koala carers. Then someone remembered Somerset Sanctuary, also in Wivenhoe Pocket.

The owner Petrina Paidel specialises in caring for macropods, possums, and gliders, but has a certificate in koala care and has koala food trees on her property.

“A truck pulled up and handed me a green bag with a koala in it. She was still soaking wet. I decided to call her Raine for obvious reasons,” Petrina said.

“I dried her off and collected some leaf and prepared special milk formula and she ate nonstop for days. She's been the perfect house guest.”

On Wednesday the roads cleared enough for Petrina to hand Raine over to Marilyn Spletter, who has hand-reared more than 120 baby koalas.

The Vice President of the Ipswich Koala Protection Society said Raine weighs 2.3 kg and is probably about 16 months old. At that age she should still be on her Mum’s back.

Marilyn assessed Raine’s condition as poor by feeling the muscle tone on her shoulder blades. That might explain her appetite which remains strong.

“She hasn’t stopped eating, she’s so chilled for a wild koala,” said Marilyn.

WWF’s emergency appeal will help wildlife rescue partners respond to floods, support carers and vets to nurse injured animals back to health, and repair wildlife facilities damaged by floodwaters.

“These floods have left many animals stranded and wildlife carers and vets in desperate need of help,” said Dr Prishani Vengetas, a veterinarian and WWF-Australia's Wildlife Recovery Project Coordinator.

“Orphans like Raine will require specialist care if they’re going to survive, so we’ll be working to deploy funds where they’re needed most."

“Once the waters subside, we’ll also help flood-damaged tree planting projects - critical to the survival of koalas - get back on track."

“We launched Regenerate Australia in response to the bushfires and now we are ready to step up to support wildlife in the face of this natural disaster,” she said.