4 Oct 2022


She was the wildlife face of the 2022 flood disaster – a drenched koala joey, aptly named Raine, who captured hearts. But where is she now?

Back in February, the youngster became separated from her Mum and was found soaked and shivering on the ground beside the surging Brisbane River at a home in Wivenhoe Pocket.

As the residents were told to evacuate, they scooped up Raine in a green shopping bag.

With regular koala carers cut off by flood waters, Raine was taken to Petrina Paidel’s Somerset Sanctuary wildlife rescue service in Wivenhoe Pocket.

For four days, Petrina fed Raine special milk and fresh eucalypt leaf until the floods receded enough for koala carer Marilyn Spletter to collect the koala joey estimated to be 16 to 18 months old.

On 4 March, Marilyn took Raine to the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital for a health check where she was given a body condition score of four to five ( 1 = very poor condition, 10 = excellent condition).

Raine the rescued koala joey with koala carer Marilyn= after receiving a check-up at RSPCA Qld

“She’s not in as good a condition as we would like so she needs supportive care before she goes back out to the wild,” RSPCA Qld veterinarian Dr Claire Phillips said at the time.

Back at Marilyn’s home, Raine joined two other koalas in care and quickly took charge, showing plenty of attitude and a healthy appetite.

“She took over and told the other joeys what leaf they could eat – whatever she didn’t want, so she was a bossy boots. She was eating leaf all the time and with her milk she just scoffed it down,” Marilyn said.

After boosting Raine’s condition, in May Marilyn took her to the Moggill Koala Rehabilitation Centre, where young koalas are exposed to larger trees so they can build their climbing muscles in preparation for release.

Then on 23 August 2022 it was time for Raine to be returned to the wild with the two most important people in Raine’s life – Marilyn and Petrina – sharing the honours.

Marilyn and Petrina preparing Raine for her release
Raine the rescued Koala, being released © WWF-Australia

Raine’s weight increased by 54% from 2.3 kg when taken into care to 3.55 kg when released five months later in a koala food tree plantation beside Petrina’s home in Wivenhoe Pocket.

The Threatened Species Scientific Committee estimates the combined koala populations of Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory as 184,748 in 2001 and 92,184 in 2021 – a 50% decline.

On this basis, the Australian government uplisted koala populations in eastern Australia from vulnerable to endangered in February 2022.

“Saving koalas like Raine is important work because every koala is now precious,” said Tanya Pritchard, Landscape Restoration Project Manager for the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia.

“WWF’s Koalas Forever program has an ambitious goal to double koala numbers along our east coast by 2050,” Ms Pritchard said.

Marilyn backs WWF’s Koalas Forever goal of doubling koala numbers. “I don’t think I’ll still be around in 2050 but I think it’s great because my fear is that maybe in a few years’ time there won’t be any around. Governments and councils should support WWF’s plan,” Marilyn said.

Raine the rescued koala joey is released onto a koala habitat area
Raine the rescued koala joey is released onto a koala habitat area © WWF-Australia / Free Vreman

And Raine is ready to do her part to boost numbers having reached breeding age. In five months she’s gone from an underweight drenched joey to a healthy potential Mum. What a transformation!

About Regenerate Australia

'Koalas Forever' is one of the top priorities in WWF’s Regenerate Australia – the largest and most innovative wildlife recovery and landscape regeneration program in Australia’s history. Launched by WWF-Australia in October 2020, the multi-year program will rehabilitate, repopulate and restore wildlife and habitats affected by the 2019-2020 bushfires, and help to future-proof Australia against the impacts of changing climate. Find out more and help Regenerate Australia at www.wwf.org.au/regenerate-australia