‘He was full of mud’: The heartbreaking photo that tells the story of Australia’s devastating floods

Victorian wildlife rescuers have shared the story behind a distressing photo of an injured kangaroo drenched in mud, highlighting the devastating toll Australia’s current has taken on native animals.
Deb Fowler, co-owner of the , said the juvenile male kangaroo was brought to her for care on Saturday after getting caught in a fence at Kialla West – one of several areas under flood evacuation orders.
“I cleaned his eyes out and cleaned out his ears and his nose because he was full of mud. The concern at the moment is infection from pneumonia more than anything else – he was freezing cold and in shock,” she told SBS News.

Ms Fowler said she was “not terribly hopeful” that the marsupial would recover.

The organisation posted the photo on social media with a warning to motorists to slow down on the the Midland Highway, also known as the Mooroopna Causeway.
Authorities closed the highway late on Saturday evening.

“The kangaroos live on either side of the causeway in Mooroopna and yesterday the floodwaters came up quite quickly and the kangaroos were forced to try and find dry land,” Ms Fowler said.

The kangaroo became caught in a fence after hopping away from rising floodwaters at Kialla Lakes, Victoria. Source: Supplied / Bohollow Wildlife Shelter

“They were jumping onto the causeway and getting hit by cars, it was absolute chaos. We managed to save about half a dozen kangaroos but we had to euthanise a whole pile more than that which were very badly injured.”

The garnered more than 1,000 likes and comments in less than 24 hours, with many people expressing their desire to help.
“Thank you so much for helping these poor creatures. Please slow down everyone, these animals just want to live too,” one Facebook user wrote.
“We seem to forget that we are not the only ones affected by the flooding,” another person commented.
Ms Fowler, who operates the shelter alongside fellow wildlife carer Kirsty Ramadan, said they welcomed cash donations as well as food, hay, bird seed, towels and blankets.

They currently have 40 animals in their care, including kangaroos, gliders and birds, and are expecting many more arrivals in the coming days.

An orphaned joey is found at a home in Shepparton, Victoria.

An orphaned joey is found at a home in Shepparton, Victoria. Source: Supplied / Wildlife Victoria

Wildlife Victoria has also been inundated with more than 1,100 calls from members of the public to assist rescued animals during the past week.

The charity’s chief executive Lisa Palma said rescue teams were finding it difficult to reach many of the wildlife in distress due to rising floodwaters and blocked roads.

“What we’ve seen across the state is a large number of animals that are waterlogged, injured, and displaced or stranded,” she said.

“The compounding factor for our wildlife at the moment is that it’s spring and a number of them have pouch young … making them particularly vulnerable to extreme weather.”

On Sunday, rescuers were called to assist a mob of Eastern Grey kangaroos that had become trapped by rising flood waters in the Goulburn Valley region.

Some were killed by cars after fleeing onto the road, but one kangaroo joey was rescued by a Wildlife Victoria volunteer and is now in care at a local shelter.
Ms Palma said this latest flood crisis in northern Victoria and Tasmania was yet another blow to Australia’s native animals, which have suffered through multiple major bushfire and flood events in recent years.
Nearly three billion animals including mammals, reptiles, birds, and frogs, were killed or displaced by the country’s ‘Black Summer’ bushfires in 2019-20, according to figures by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

“That’s the challenge with natural disasters that are increasing in frequency. The wildlife impacts can last a very, very long time afterwards,” Ms Palma said.

Despite clearer weather in Victoria on Sunday, the State Emergency Service warned that river levels would continue to rise and people should stay alert.

Echuca is expected to be hit by two flood peaks, including one by Tuesday and another later in the week.

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